Madeline is a deaf blue merle Australian Shepherd mix with tan points. This is her adoption story and advice for pet parents considering adopting a deaf dog.
Madeline was found tied to a post outside a Petco in Atlanta, extremely pregnant and heartworm-positive at four years old. Two days later she gave birth to a litter of beautiful puppies who were all adopted to loving homes. After enduring 6 weeks of being confined to a crate 23 hours a day for heartworm treatment, she was finally pronounced heartworm-negative and ready for her forever home!
She met her new mommy, Joy, and new doggie sister, Alice, a nine-year old Red Heeler, at the same Petco and they drove back to Nashville together.
Having another dog in her home helps a deaf dog to learn routines and rules quickly. The deaf dog follows her hearing companion outside for potty breaks and learns to watch her hearing friend and be alert to things that she is alert to. Though Madeline is deaf, she always barks at the door when Joy comes home because she knows that when Alice gets up and goes to the door that Mommy is home.
Deaf dogs rely on a consistent daily routine in order to feel safe and secure. They can’t hear explanations like “I’m sorry, I’m running late today, I don’t have time to walk you.” Joy quickly learned that Madeline became sad and ashamed, thinking she was being punished with no walk when this happened. So she learned to keep a consistent daily routine so Madeline would know that she was ok.
A deaf dog owner quickly becomes highly aware of how body language communicates emotions and intentions. Body language communications between deaf dog and owner are like a conversation. For example, Joy comes home with a big smile on her face and an extra spring in her step. Madeline decides that Mommy must be happy so she starts wagging her tail madly and doing her “Are we going walking?” bark.
She gets her question answered by knowing what different routines mean. If Mommy smiles, pets her on the head, changes clothes and put her leash on, they are going walking. If Mommy takes her outside but carries the leash in her hand, they are getting in the car to go to PetSmart or the dog park. If Mommy gives her the “No” sign, then they are not going out right now.
Most of all, adopting a deaf dog requires patience because it takes time for you to get to know each other and for your deaf dog to learn what your expressions mean and what to expect in her daily routine. However, the rewards are well worth the patience, because deaf dogs are very intelligent, excelling at agility and obedience because they are so focused and difficult to distract.