Shelter dogs have a hard enough time getting adopted. But finding a good home was especially difficult for a boxer mix named Rosie. The four-year-old dog is deaf.
Dogs with disabilities can often be overlooked at pet shelters, and Rosie was no exception. Rosie waited at the Central Nebraska Humane Society… and then waited some more. Realizing the only way she could communicate was to sign, humane society workers began to teach this special dog sign language.
Hearing dogs can respond to a spoken command. But in order to give and get attention, Rosie had to be taught to sign.
Once she learned the signs for sit, down, stay, and walk, Rosie came out of her shell, according to shelter volunteer Tracie Pfeifle.
"We started using treats and putting the treat up to your face and saying 'good girl' with your thumb up and then she figured out how, that we were communicating with her," Pfeifle said. "It was just amazing to watch her just blossom into a dog, I don't think she knew how to be a dog."
The training paid off. When Cindy Koch saw a post of Rosie on the Central Nebraska Humane Society’s Facebook page, she was excited. Also deaf, Koch said she always wanted a deaf dog, "because I'm deaf and we want to relate to her, and understand how she feels.”
Rosie found her ideal family. Since the Koch family already knew sign language, it was easy to learn Rosie's signs. They also plan to teach her more.
Adopting a special needs dog or cat can be so rewarding. Deaf dogs often have a better sense of how you are feeling. Petfinder notes that “Deaf pets are just as intelligent as hearing pets. They make great only pets or do well with other animals in the home–it’s a myth that a deaf pet ‘needs’ a hearing companion to function successfully. Deaf animals bark, meow, whinny, and make all the regular sounds their hearing counterparts make. They can be taught sign language commands and are fully trainable.”
Click here to see some of the special needs animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, and horses listed on Petfinder.
Several pages on Facebook post special needs shelter dogs and cats that are awaiting adoption or rescue, such as
Blind/deaf shelter dogs networking and Blind / Deaf / Disabled / Injured / Special Needs Dog & Cat Rescue Network.