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Living with a deaf Border Collie - Some thoughts on the subject
 
Many people have told us that they are put of by the idea of taking on a deaf collie, or any type of disabled dog, and there is little doubt that disability in animals is an emotive subject that affects us in a deeper way that we can usually understand.
It's not that many people actually feel aversion to a disabled animal, in fact most people feel a great sympathy and need to offer protection. However there is something in human nature that is profoundly affected by the concept of any disability. Perhaps aspects of vulnerability and dependence (with the ensuing responsibility) tends to subconsciously frighten us off taking on an animal which is not physically normal.
This initial emotional response can be so strong that we feel overwhelmed to the extent that we find the experience less than pleasant. It puts us off without us knowing why. Perhaps we also feel we may not be able to cope with the extra responsibility that such a relationship incurs.
Those people who have taken on deaf or blind dogs from Border Collie Rescue have found themselves involved in a very special relationship. They have found that they and their dog interact in a very special way and the feedback and response they get from the relationship is greater than the interaction they have had from 'normal' dogs.
So on this page is space for people who have relationships with deaf dogs to put their experiences into words. Paul Hunt, with Blake, has submitted the first article - we welcome more from anyone else who shares their life with a deaf dog. Fell free to send us a short article and photo if you think that your experiences will help others understand more about the subject - doesn't have to be a BCR dog.
 

Living with my best friend – he’s Deaf !

(and a DOG - A Border Collie from Border Collie Rescue)

Having had three dogs previously in the family; two Corgi’s and a Yorkshire terrier all sadly passed away; I vowed I would never allow myself and my family to be upset again, no more dogs (as I thought).
At the time I had a business in Richmond, and at the rear of the premises was the HQ for Border Collie Rescue. Mike Cooke and Nicki Oliver - being 25 hour a day people - were passing in and out each day with various dogs going through the rescue, some nice, some not so nice (the Good, the Bad and occasionally the Ugly!). It became natural to take an interest.
As time went on I noticed that some dogs seemed to be in long term care, with little or no home prospect in sight. They were the “DEAF” or otherwise disabled ones. I volunteered to be a fosterer for BCR and a young deaf dog “Blake” was placed with me. I quickly grew to love and respect him. After a period of assessment and training I applied to adopt him and he became a member of our family.
I have never known such a loyal, intelligent and responsive animal in my life - so say all family and visitors. They all love him.
So down to the nitty-gritty. How do you cope with a deaf dog? Well there is nothing magical or mysterious about it. You treat them as you would a deaf member of your family. Training is done to hand signals (dog signing - universal commands) which are recommended or your own devised ones. Blake responds to a mixture of both. Over time you will find that if you start with universal signs you will eventually devise your own unique versions that suit you both. Sit, Down, Stay, Etc. all work and Blake is a very obedient dog - like any that is well trained.
BUT you always have to bear in mind that a deaf dog is only as good as it is when loose in a controlled environment. Free in an open environment carries risks. It can be difficult to get attention when the dog is facing away from you. This means “lead” work is normal in public places and there are limitations. A deaf dog cannot do everything and some restrictions apply, but Blake responds to this without question.
So that is the down side (if you can call it that). The PLUS side is devotion and loyalty, a super companion - far superior to our previously loved pets (and they were great). There is something additionally special about the bond you form with a deaf dog.
Blake rarely barks (only when very excited) but makes a bit more noise when out walking as he cannot hear his loud panting and grunting ( although I can!). Apart from the obvious concessions to his impediment, we treat him as a normal dog and he behaves like one.
On his ID tag it says “This is a deaf dog”, address Etc. – but he shows no apparent symptoms of being deaf so most people would not know.
So go for it - don't be put off by disability. A DEAF DOG is great, if everyone knew how good it was to have one there would be a waiting list for them. My friends who have dogs say “they would definitely consider one next time”.
As a slight JOKE - all shops welcome him

“ONLY DEAF DOGS ALLOWED IN THIS SHOP”

Paul Hunt. July 2005

 
This page is space for people who have relationships with deaf dogs to put their experiences into words. We welcome more from anyone else who shares their life with a deaf dog. Fell free to send us a short article and photo if you think that your experiences will help others understand more about the subject - doesn't have to be a BCR dog.
 
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Border Collie Rescue is a UK based charity, working Internationally to Rescue and Re-home Border Collies and Working Sheepdogs and promote a better understanding of the breed and its Welfare.

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