Be Careful What You Wish For

12 Mar

When I was 16 years old, I worked as an Assistant Manager at Gap store. I enjoyed the job, for the most part, and got lots of experience from it. But the one I remember most is becoming friendly with one of the cleaning staff there. She was deaf, and when her translator was not able to be at the store with her, she couldn’t really talk to anyone very easily. Except for me since I could finger spell, and knew some very basic ASL phrases. She was a very welcoming lady, and hard working. Despite her struggles, and having one of the lesser desirable tasks to accomplish while at work, she was always pleasant, hard working and patient.

She inspired me. 

Of course, I was moved by the dedication she had. Sure, I was impressed that she was independent regardless of whatever complications that may have presented for her. But more than that, my inspiration manifested itself in educating myself further so that, when presented with similar situations, I could prove to be more helpful to other people, and animals, than I was then.

Now, over 10 years later, I am fostering Bully Project‘s John, and something we may not have expressed about him until now is that he, too, is deaf. I have always wanted a deaf dog, feeling that I had a strong understanding of the needs of any dog, and the challenges that hearing loss would present. And despite loving John as much as I have any other dog, living with him is certainly a different experience than with one of my other hearing dogs.

The biggest challenge is simply getting his attention: when he’s stopped to sniff something on the street, and I want to keep going, I can’t just call his name, I can’t use a verbal “touch” command, and if he’s not looking at me, my hand signals wont work either. The silver lining: John loves human contact, so touch commands work great. If he’s distracted, all it takes is a tap on the side, or butt, or a nice head rub to get him going in the right direction again.

And he’s super food motivated, so even though he can’t hear my commands, if there’s food (even just a regular old biscuit) involved, he’s focused on nothing else and will obey any hand signals you give him!

Teaching a deaf dog has been quite the challenge, but in the end, it’s been even more rewarding than I ever imagined it could be. And after John gets adopted, would I take another deaf dog into my home? Absolutely! (But not without a short break in between.)

5 Responses to “Be Careful What You Wish For”

  1. cafall at 10:24 AM #

    I’m glad John is getting a chance thru you – I’ve never had a deaf dog, but I had a blind dog.


    • That Touch of Pit ... at 10:33 AM #

      John deserves nothing but the best! He’s a sweet boy who loves his people, and his deafness is just one of his winning qualities!

  2. Marcela at 10:32 AM #

    I’ve never had a deaf dog, but I can only imagine the challenges that you must face. Regardless of that, all dogs, if you have the patience and love needed to train them make life much more enjoyable.

  3. Queen of Zoom at 12:45 PM #

    I stumbled upon Mr B late last fall while again checking WHS available dogs: a senior deaf pitbull. I admit I jumped into adoption without too much research but to be quite honest he is absolutely the easiest dog I have ever cared for! More people should check into adopting or fostering ‘special’ dogs, it’s very rewarding 🙂

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