While the U.S. pet homelessness problem encompasses over 70 million animals, pooches with special needs often find it more difficult than most to secure a loving forever home. Sometimes, prospective adopters are scared by the idea of looking after an animal whose health conditions require more attention than they feel ready to give. With enough training, love, and commitment from their guardians, however, there is no reason why these special dogs cannot go on to live happy, fulfilling lives!
One woman in Virginia, named Christina Lee, has gone one step further than just adopting a special needs dog herself – she has set up a nonprofit foundation called Deaf Dogs Rock, which aims to find loving homes for canines who are deaf or hard of hearing, throughout the U.S. Since 2011, the foundation has helped to rescue over 1,400 such dogs. In 2014 alone, Lee and her husband Chris sponsored 45 deaf dogs in need of a home.
Lee was inspired to set up Deaf Dogs Rock after adopting her own deaf dog Nitro.
Her experience with him caused her to realize that if more deaf and hard-of-hearing dogs were to be adopted, prospective guardians would need a lot of support and guidance.
“We stayed up until 1.00 a.m. reading and watching videos on deaf dog training, because we both wanted to be fully prepared for what would be the best way to train our new special needs puppy,” she explained in an interview with Good News Network. “What we discovered in doing research about deaf dogs is that there is not a whole lot of resources out there for new owners of deaf dogs.”
Deaf Dogs Rock now specializes in transporting deaf dogs to rescue centers, paying their medical bills, and facilitating training classes for new deaf dog guardians. As might be expected, the methods of training a dog who cannot hear differ from standard dog training procedures. Visual cues – such as the use of a thumbs-up signal, rather than calling out a dog’s name – are emphasized.
“When a deaf dog is off leash, you can’t just call the dog back like a regular hearing dog,” Lee said. “We try to promote deaf dog training on our website so people can see it isn’t that much different, training a deaf dog versus a hearing dog.”
On the Deaf Dogs Rock homepage, the organization says, “Deaf dogs make amazing pets. They are not harder to train, just different. In fact, raising a deaf dog will make you a far better dog owner.” The Deaf Dog Rocks Facebook page provides guardians with a supportive community of like-minded people. Their Resources section is full of awesome tips and advice on helping a deaf dog to live his or her life to the full … and their motto is “deaf dogs hear with their hearts.”
If you are thinking of taking in an animal with special needs – whether they are blind, deaf, or suffer from any other impediment – be sure to check out our article, 5 Important Things to Keep in Mind Before Adopting a Special Needs Pet.
All image source: Deaf Dogs Rock/Facebook