I’m featuring older and special needs pets up for adoption on my blog this month, for the very urgent reason that many heartless people abandon pets in December and January in favor of “Christmas puppies”.  Older pets and those with special needs are “less adoptable” in the shelter system, and there are more of them than usual in need of homes this time of year.  For example…

Meet Mandy.  She can’t hear you, but she’d love to be your friend.

Mandy came from a shelter in rural Texas, where she was turned in as a stray.  The shelter placed her with a rescue group in the Houston area, where her foster mom immediately recognized that she was deaf.  The rescue group’s vet also learned that she has been completely de-barked, probably because as a deaf terrier, she was very noisy.

Other than her deafness and surgical silence, Mandy is a happy, healthy West Highland terrier mix, estimated to be about two and a half years old.  She has been in foster care for about a year, and her foster mom tells me that she is a charming and funny little dog.  She’s housetrained, does fine with other dogs and gets along with children.  She does not love cats.

Deaf animals often adapt so thoroughly that it takes people a while to realize that they can’t hear.  Mandy is very responsive to humans and very attuned to her surroundings; she picks up on the household routine very quickly. 

A deaf dog does do things a little differently than a pet with normal hearing.  They rely more on spatial awareness, visual cues, and often appear to hear when in reality they are responding to vibrations, perhaps from someone walking across the floor or from a ball bouncing. 

Want to get a deaf dog’s attention?  Instead of calling their name or whistling, you might flip the light switch or stomp your foot on the floor.  If you’re in a deaf dog’s line of sight, hand gestures work well.  My own deaf dog, the infamous Bumble, was thought to be stubborn and untrainable.  Once I realized he was deaf, I started teaching him hand signals – he’s still stubborn, and I love him that way, but now I can tell him what I want him to do.

If you have a deaf dog, be extra aware of dangers outside the house.  A deaf dog may not realize that a car is coming.  And in Mandy’s case, when you take her outside, she must always be on a leash or in a fenced yard, because she loves to run and play, and won’t hear you calling her to come back. 

With a few minor adaptations in methodology, life with a deaf dog is basically the same as life with a hearing dog.  Mandy doesn’t know she has a “disability”, so she is definitely not suffering. 

Have room in your heart and home for a happy little girl with years and years of love to give?  All it takes is a little information on how a deaf dog functions, and a little extra patience in training.  You can see her profile and apply to adopt Mandy at http://www.smartpetz.com.

Please consider adopting an older or special needs pet when you’re ready to add a new member to your family.

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