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They say that love is blind, but when it comes to pets, it can be deaf, too. And we’re not just talking about how you ignore your dog’s barking or your cat’s incessant meowing when they decide for no reason to sing at 3 a.m.
Deaf pets are full of love and affection. They are often misunderstood, and many of them are euthanized in shelters before they can find a home. But those who are lucky enough to find a forever human quickly show that deaf pets can be just as loyal, playful and amazing as any other pet. The 10 animals below went above and beyond to show the world just that.
1. Angelyne is proof that deaf dogs are trainable.
Angelyne is an Australian Cattle Dog who, like many of her breed, was born deaf. Her guardian, however, managed to train her with a clicker and now she knows more than 40 hand signals.
“Angelyne is well-trained, socialized and very intelligent,” says her owner, Eric, in a video that shows all of her prowess. “Her focus, sense of duty and agility is amazing. Her ability to learn and execute obedience, tricks and physical feats outshines even the best of hearing dogs.”
Angelyne is always focused on what Eric commands her to do and has formed a strong bond with him. Since 2007 the duo travels the country to spread the word on how deaf dogs can be just as well-behaved as any hearing dog.
2. Bonnie stopped a burglar from robbing her owner.
When a man broke in to Dan Strasser’s Oregon home in the middle of the night, his 3-year-old English Springer Spaniel, Bonnie got all excited thinking it was play time. All the noise, woke up Strasser who went to see what was going on.
“I figured a skunk or squirrel got into the house because I have a door that I keep cracked for her [Bonnie] to go in and out of,” said Strasser.
What he found was a man trying to steal his laptop instead. The man tried to make a run for it but instead went into the garage where Strasser cornered him and Bonnie promptly sat on him as he lay on the ground until the cops showed up and took the intruder away.
3. Kiko took a bullet for his owner.
A man disguised as a UPS delivery driver tried to break into his owner’s Staten Island home so Kiko tried to stop him. Unfortunately, in the process he was shot in the head. Luckily, the bullet only ricocheted off his skull and he made a full recovery.
After his owner ran into rough times, Kiko ended up with the animal rescue Mighty Mutts and that’s when they found out he was deaf. They don’t know if he was always deaf or if it was a result from the bullet but it didn’t affect his loving personality. He still bonds with volunteers and loves a good back scratch and other physical attention.
4. Alice learned sign language to communicate with her deaf owners.
The Springer spaniel was abandoned by a breeder in Ireland when she was still a puppy because of her disability, but she was eventually adopted by Marie Williams and Mark Morgan, both deaf as well.
After finding her photo online, Williams says she wanted her right away because she could relate to her struggle. She thought to herself, “I can imagine if my mom abandoned me I would feel the same way. I want to rescue her. Thanks to my mom who rescued me when I was a baby now I can do the same for her.”
The couple then went on to teach Alice sign language so she knows commands to “sit,” “stand,” “come,” “roll over” and “pray” when her food arrives, and when she’s being asked if she wants to go outside.
5. Rosie learned sign language and it got her adopted.
The deaf pit bull was at the Nebraska Humane Society when one of the volunteers, Tracie Pfeifle, decided to teach her sign language to see if the dog would communicate better with the staff temporarily caring for her.
”It was just amazing to watch her just blossom into a dog, I don’t think she knew how to be a dog,” she recalls.
With her new training, Rosie caught the eye of an adopter, Cindy Koch, who is also deaf and was able to continue to care for Rosie using sign language.
6. Bambi showed cats can learn sign language and be trained, too.
Anyone who’s ever tried training their cat knows that it’s an uphill battle, but Bambi, a deaf cat, was trained with sign language.
She knows the commands to “come,” “more,” “sit,” “stay,” “shake,” “high five,” “sleep,” “circle,” “shrimp,” “play,” “canned food,” “finish” and “dance.”
7. True saved his family from a house fire.
When an electrical shortage started a fire that quickly engulfed an Oklahoma cabin in flames, it was True, a blind, deaf and three-legged Dachshund that saved the day. True started barking and woke up Katie Crosley and her baby son, Jace, who were able to escape the fire with True before the entire place burned to the ground.
“We’re thankful for him,” Crosley told KFOR of True. “This could have been a bad deal.”
8. Sugar survived a 19-story fall.
Although any animal can be deaf, white animals have an increased chance of deafness, and that was the case with Sugar. The four-year-old, white, deaf cat missed a step and fell off the balcony of her owner’s apartment — which is located on the 19th floor.
Amazingly, Sugar fell on a patch of mulch and grass, shook it off and ran into the building lobby where she hid under a couch.
After being taken to get a vet exam, Sugar was found to have gotten only a cut lip and a minor bruise in her lung.
9. Lothair provides emotional support to patients in hospitals.
Being stuck in a hospital all day is no fun and can be draining to both patients and the loved ones keeping them company, so Lothair, a deaf Blue Merle Sheltie, cheers them up. A registered therapy dog, Lothair visits hospitals and nursing homes to give humans a little pick me up.
“The therapy is not just for the patients, it’s for us, too,” said Monique Rolle, a civilian registered nurse working at one of the hospitals where Lothair makes his rounds once a week. “I wish they came more often.”
People get to pet him, play with him, get a few kisses and feel a little bit better because of this deaf dog’s company.
10. Tervel has a guide cat and BFF.
Tervel is a chocolate lab who is both blind and partially deaf. He used to just stay in his bed, afraid to get hurt when exploring until his owner, Anne, brought home a stray cat she named Putty Tat.
Although the cat is not friendly to other cats, Putty Tat immediately was drawn to Tervel and became not only his best friend but guide and protector.
“Putty Tat will seek out Tervel and then they’ll snuggle up and rub against each other,” says their owner. “It’s quite obvious that there’s a bond there. Putty Tat seemed to realize that Tervel was quite vulnerable, that there was a need there.”
Tervel will follow Putty Tat everywhere and relies on his sensitive cat senses to keep him safe.
Source: 10 Amazing Deaf Pets.
Congenital or acquired hearing loss isn’t that uncommon in pets, particularly cats and dogs, and it doesn’t have to be a major impediment to quality of life. Most deaf pets have full and happy lives as long as their guardians take a few extra steps to keep them safe. Unlike in humans, both cats and dogs rely heavily on sight, smell and touch, and these senses quickly compensate for hearing loss, especially when paired with vigilant help from a handy human — hearing or not. Here are 5 tips on
Whether an animal is hard of hearing or totally deaf, calling, using a clicker or talking clearly won’t have much of an effect when it comes to training or asking your pet to do something like get off the counter or sit and stay. That’s when gestures and body language become very important, and many deaf pets pick things up very easily, especially if they’ve been deaf since birth. Always use your body along with your hands — keep your face open, relaxed and friendly when you’re reinforcing a behavior, and frown when you’re telling a pet not to do something, for example.
Sign language isn’t just for humans. You can adapt key signs from American Sign Language (like “sit” or “come here”) or you can make up your own, but make sure everyone in the household is familiar with them, and avoid making them too similar to casual gestures, because you don’t want to confuse your pets. Make sure your gestures are big, too — think about signing to a dog from across the yard, or signaling to a pesky cat across the kitchen. As with other kinds of animal training, identify the desired behavior, pair it with a sign, and give the animal a treat as positive reinforcement. Some people use something that flashes, like a keychain flashlight, just like a clicker.
Sometimes gestures won’t do it, and you need to pull out the big guns. It’s a good idea to save them for emergencies, so animals understand that they need to pay attention to something that could endanger them. Examples might include a deaf cat that’s about to step on the stove, or a dog that’s headed for the street. A squirter can be useful in these settings. You can also use a laser pointer or other light to direct or redirect a pet’s attention, and some people find vibrating collars useful as well.
2) Interacting with children
Children should be taught about interacting safely and gently with animals from an early age. However, deaf pets require some additional considerations. Because they can’t hear and may not be as alert to their surroundings, they could be startled or upset by a child who suddenly appears on the scene. Kids should learn to tap their feet or hands to let an animal know they’re approaching, and to avoid petting an animal from behind with no warning, which is a good idea anyway! Instead, kids should approach deaf animals from the front so cats and dogs will see them coming, before kneeling and extending a hand for the pet to smell. Once a pet feels oriented and safe, a child can pet her—but gently!
3) Street smarts
Deaf animals should never go outside unsupervised — and really, no pets should go outside without an escort. For them, it’s especially dangerous, because they can’t hear traffic, people and other threats. However, they can totally learn to walk safely on a leash with their people. Make sure to teach them critical hand gestures and test drive them in a safe spot first, though, and buy a suitable harness that will allow you to gently pull on your pet’s lead without choking her. You’ll need to be able to communicate that way in a situation where your pet might be in danger, such as when a car careens across the street or a stray ball flies by in the park.
4) Health concerns
Deafness itself is not a health risk. However, if a pet was born deaf, it might be a sign of a genetic condition that could have other implications — for example, many white cats are deaf, and many of them are sensitive to cancer on their ears or noses because they lack protective melanin. When you adopt a deaf pet, you might want to discuss these issues with your vet to find out if there’s anything special you should be concerned about.
In cases of acquired deafness, the situation can depend on the cause. Some animals naturally start losing their hearing with age, and you’ll notice warning signs like making more noise, not responding to your calls or looking disoriented. However, if a pet is clearly dizzy or having trouble walking, that might be a sign of an infection. Likewise, a pet clawing at her ears is clearly in distress, and if there’s any discharge from the ears, this is also indicative of infection. Take your pet in for an evaluation and treatment — it may be possible to arrest hearing loss by addressing the underlying cause.
5) Good vibes
As an animal’s sense of touch becomes heightened, vibrations are more apparent. Animals can feel your voice when you speak, even if they can’t hear it, and they may find it comforting. They may bark, meow or purr to communicate with you — pets can train you as much as you train them — and to comfort themselves. Your pets may be less skittish and more comfortable if you make a point of tapping the floor when you enter a room, or tapping a piece of furniture that a pet’s sitting on, so she knows you’re there. If deaf pets are startled, they may snap, bolt or get anxious, and that’s not healthy for anyone.
Be aware that cats in particular like to be up high so they can scope the scenery, and that goes double for deaf cats. Make sure that lines of sight in your house are clear so that pets of all species and sizes can clearly see what’s happening. Because they can’t hear, they will feel more comfortable and less threatened if they can take advantage of their eyes and noses in addition to their sense of touch. It’s also a good idea to create a safe space for your pet, like a cat bed on a bookshelf or a dog bed in a central spot, so she always has a place to retreat to.
Like other animals with some specific needs, deaf pets sometimes spend more time in the shelter. Switch it up: Adopt a deaf pet today!