This is a week to bring awareness to dogs who are deaf and hard of hearing. I can’t help but think that we should also be bringing awareness to their caregivers as there is just that much more to think about when providing day to day care for these wonderful pets. Here is a story about Rizzo. This story is written by her owners who did a wonderful job giving us a glimpse into what it is like in the day to day life of a pet with hearing loss.
In January of 2015, we entered a new chapter in our lives. We adopted a dog from the Canadian Dachshund Rescue Organization. Our girl Rizzo, is an 8 year old double dappled diabetic, with a very sensitive tummy to grain foods and she happens to be deaf. Did you notice that being deaf with the last thing I mentioned, and there is a reason for that, deafness in a dog is not a reason to have them put down or not adopt them. We had never had a deaf dog prior to Rizzo and didn’t know anything about what to expect.
Rizzo has never had hearing, so her world is normal for her, and training her is a wee bit different. We use hand signals to train her and while training her sometimes might take a bit longer, when Rizzo “gets it” it is such a good feeling. She knows, sit, stay, and come. She knows, good girl and no or bad girl. She recognizes that keys mean a car ride, her leash means a walk and showing her dog dish means a meal. It might seem silly, but we also talk to her all the time. Safety is a huge concern, and again for obvious reasons, Rizzo depends on us to make sure she is never in danger. Something as simple as a door opening to greet a visitor could have disastrous consequences, if she were to escape and run into the street. Rizzo was micro-chipped when we adopted her, but we also have very well identified name tags that mention her deafness and also her diabetic condition, something every conscientious pet owner also does.
Rizzo is funny, lovable and Dachshund stubborn, traits that a hearing dog has a well. To be honest Rizzo was not our first choice as a dog to adopt, and why not; because she was deaf,and we had never had a deaf dog. When you adopt, you don’t get the dog you want, you get the dog you need, Rizzo needed a home and it didn’t take us long to realize she was the dog we needed. Her deafness is now something we never think twice about, and while we are sensitive to her limits about safety, beyond that Rizzo is just Rizzo, our dog, who happens to be deaf.