Silence Speaks Volumes - March 11
Unfortunately, with puppy mills using indiscriminate breeding practices and backyard breeders trying to “create” their unique designer dogs there are more deaf dogs than ever due to faulty genetic combinations. There are many theories as to what causes deafness in dogs. Scientifically it has been found that dogs with a predominance of white in their coat color are genetically predisposed to deafness. In addition, merl coloring is also found to carry the gene for deafness. Many “show” breeders will destroy a deaf puppy considering it a severe fault to be culled from the breeding stock rather than spaying or neutering it and selling it as a pet puppy; thus, keeping deafness a well kept secret in their lines.
Deaf Dogs Growing in Number
It is estimated that there are over 3,000 owners of deaf dogs and the numbers are growing. These special pet owners have discovered that Silence Speaks Volumes. There are now books on how to train a hearing impaired dog, a support chat group that is international and several websites that provide information on deaf dogs. A deaf dog is not necessarily at a disadvantage as many trainers teach sign language to dogs in training in class. In fact, English is considered a second language to dogs. They are no more familiar with English than they are with German, Spanish or French. The dog’s main language is body language. Sign language comes very naturally and easy to them and when trained with this method deaf dogs can be successful at anything a hearing dog can do including agility, carting, rally, search and rescue, herding, lure coursing, and flyball.
This story submitted by a young man named Justin Skinner is a shining testimony as to how wonderful deaf dogs are to live with, what great companions they make, and the life lessons he has learned by living with them.
“My life's lessons have come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Their world is one of silence, but they have spoken volumes. For the past 7 years, I have shared my life with deaf dogs. They have come from shelters or the streets. The lucky ones came from responsible breeders. Each one has taught me a lesson about what life has to offer.
Rugby a deaf English Cocker Spaniel, taught me to accept less than the perfect. I watched him arrive in this world as an unconnected soul. Then felt the disappointment of learning of his disability. Time gave me the chance to marvel at the way he adapted to a silent world and became a loving being. He taught me the value of being different.
Faith a deaf Dalmatian, taught me the value of forgiveness. She came as a terrified dog. Time, patience and space taught her to trust humans. From her, I learned to turn a cheek to those who may be cruel or unkind. I learned that most cruelty is not personal but a lack of moral character in the perpetrator.
Mona taught me to go forward despite struggles. Mona, a deaf French Bulldog, suffered with a terminal liver malformation. She greeted each morning with a lick and a wag. From her, I learned not to whine about life's small difficulties. I learned that perseverance could over come just about anything. We all have hurdles put in our way. I just look at them as challenges.
Snatch a deaf Bull Terrier, taught me to enjoy life. An ant crawling across the floor can become the most entertaining event. A burst of frenetic activity, can invigorated the body. The simple touch of a human hand can warm your soul. One should take time everyday, to give thanks for being alive. Life may give you obstacles but there is great pleasure in the process.
Grace a deaf Border Collie, taught me there are no disabilities. It's all in the way you approach life. Life is too short and there is too much to do to let life's obstacles slow you down. She goes at everything full speed and with great exuberance. She has taught me to go for what I want and be persistent.
a deaf Setter, taught me about passion. One should have things that are an integral part of one’s soul. I've learned to embrace my passions. Although distractions may get in the way, follow your heart. I have watched the sheer delight in Grace's body as she has pointed to a bird. I have felt my own joy as I finished a computer animation project or sunk the winning basket in a game. Passion is the fuel for life.
My friends have come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some have had fur and some are human. From them, I have learned different is not something to be feared but revered. It is not something to be ridiculed but defended. My life lessons may have been silent, but they have spoken volumes and helped me become the person I am.”
By Justin Skinner
As you can see, from the eyes of Justin Skinner, deafness has spoken volumes in teaching him some valuable life lessons. Perhaps we could all learn that what is someone’s “trash” can be a “treasure” to someone else. If you learn that your new puppy is deaf or your older dog becomes hard of hearing look for the “silver lining.” Learn the beauty of sign language and open up new avenues of communicating with your pet. It might just give you a new view of life by enjoying the Silence Speaks Volumes.
Heddie is a Certified Humane Educator and member of APDT, APLB, APHE and NHES sharing a lifelong passion of helping children and the elderly learn manners reinforcement with their pets through the PawZone In-Home PetSitting and The DogSpot Training Center.