It’s Deaf Awareness week, and dogs can be deaf too…
Meet Bella, who was found as a pup wandering the streets in her silent little world. Even after being rescued, the homing process was very confusing for her, and it quickly became apparent that adopter and adoptee needed to help each other adapt to the situation. Her lovely mum tells us:
It wasn’t easy at first, but we quickly noticed she would follow and copy our other two dogs, especially Lexie who she developed a strong bond with from the start. She would also watch our facial expressions and respond to them. It soon became clear we needed to use these expressions, combined with hand signals to communicate with her, much like British Sign Language. She learnt ‘thumbs up’ for being good and a flat hand to stop her.
One of the most important things about having a deaf dog is having the confidence that they will come back when off lead. We were really impressed when she learnt recall – holding my hand above my head then bringing it down to my side. Now, Bella will keep an eye on someone most of the time, but if she gets distracted, Lexie will get her and bring her back. As her confidence has grown, she is more comfortable walking on her own.
Bella can be nervous around people and dogs, as would we when meeting a silent stranger – no cheery hello to put you at ease. She can sometimes bark at them, as this is the only form of communication she knows, but she can’t hear herself, so doesn’t understand what she is doing wrong. She does however, respond well to a finger in front of her face asking her to be quiet. Failing that, we remove her from the situation.
The main thing for Bella is when we need her attention and she is not looking at us or is asleep, we have to gently touch her, as she can get startled easily – a silent world can be a scary one sometimes.
Being deaf does not affect her character at all – she is one of the most loving and loyal dogs you could wish to meet. We just wouldn’t be without her.”