Our beautiful blue eyed, blue merle Australian Shepherd puppy went to her new forever home last week. When we posted Mazie’s pictures and description on Petfinder, Adopt-a-Pet and our website, I knew she would generate interest quickly. She was so adorable! I also knew finding the right “match” for Mazie would not be easy. The issues and the commitment needed in raising a deaf puppy are unique and challenging. Any applicant without experience would need dedication to educating themselves about deaf dogs. People see a gorgeous puppy like Mazie and immediately want to snatch her up and take her home. But fewer actually think through what they are, or should be, committing to.
To train a deaf dog, one must be willing to learn ASL or other signs, and use those consistently to communicate. Deaf dogs or puppies must be more protected from potentially dangerous situations because they do not have the warning benefits of sounds. Mazie loved the woods surrounding our house, just like all dogs and puppies that have stayed at our home, but she could get easily disoriented or lost. She had no way to hear us calling to her or the sounds of the other dogs to lead her back home so she was extremely vulnerable. She would seize any split second that our back was turned to high-tail-it into those trees. Rich and I went thrashing through the trees and thorn bushes more than once in our P.J.’s, slippers and robes to nab our little escape artist during one of those middle-of-the-night potty trips!
Last Thursday, a young couple made a three hour drive from a small Kansas town to Neosho to meet and adopt Mazie. This couple had actually been looking for another “special needs” puppy or dog to adopt. Can you imagine that? A few months ago they decided they were ready to add a new furry family member to their home. They decided that they didn’t want to adopt just any rescued orphan, but one that might be less likely to get a home. Duke was that dog. Duke is an 18 month old, blue merle, Australian Shepherd that is deaf and vision impaired. He is not blind but can’t see well, especially outdoors at night. Tiffany and Leon said that adopting Duke had been a huge blessing to them and their family and a wonderful experience. He is very bright and has learned sign language and hand signals quickly. They hung a bell on their door that Duke rings when he needs to go outside to do his business. He sleeps between them at night and loves to watch the late night TV shows. Apparently, he has no problem seeing pictures on the TV screen because of the light coming from it. He is a totally devoted, loving dog who goes with them wherever they go. He is gentle, sweet and attentive to their two little girls (who’ve learned sign language too, because of Duke).
Page 2 of 2 - Recently, they decided that they’d like to adopt another “special needs” dog and one that might be a good friend for Duke. Through our internet postings, they found Mazie. They completed and emailed their application, hoping to have her “home for Christmas.” During the phone interview with Tiffany, I was so impressed with what she had done with Duke. If they adopted Mazie, she would devote herself to teach Mazie the same signs and signals so that she, Duke and the family would “speak the same language.” A bonus was they had quite a large privacy fenced yard where Mazie could run her little legs off without the worry of dangers lurking. Tiffany and Leon spent three hours at our home that Thursday afternoon getting acquainted with Mazie. Being the little clown that she is, she entertained us all. In the end, they determined that she was indeed, just what they’d been hoping for.
As the couple drove away that afternoon with little Mazie cradled in Tiffany’s arms, I shook my head at the wonder of it. A hand much larger than mine continues to orchestrate this all. Mazie, who was deemed “flawed” and not worthy of life, became “just what they’d been hoping for.” Merry Christmas!
Leanne Williams is president of Faithful Friends.