A Deaf Dogs Rock Ambassador is someone who not only lives with a deaf dog/dogs but is someone who goes that extra mile to educate the general public on why Deaf Dogs Rock. They also work to eradicate the discrimination against deaf dogs in shelters by being an shining example of a home the exemplifies how easy it can be to live with a deaf dog, train a deaf dog, and encourage others to be their deaf dog’s advocate.

A Deaf Dogs Rock Ambassador is the next generation of deaf dog advocates that will carry the torch to help deaf dogs in the future. Our Deaf Dogs Rock Ambassadors will utilize educational opportunities and promotions on social media, setting a good example by encouraging others to step up and do the daily consistent positive reinforcement training, socialization, and enrichment with each deaf dog to help that dog be the best they can be. In short, our Ambassadors are very passionate about deaf dogs!

Meet Our Deaf Dogs Rock Ambassadors

Felicia Forsythe

Owner and writer of Deaf Wiggle Butts at deafwigglebutts.com.

Mom to deaf boxer Charlie

Deaf Wiggle Butts Website
Instagram
Facebook

Felicia and Charlie

From Felicia: For more than half of my life I’ve been loving deaf dogs. They speak to me in a way that I just can’t explain. Deaf dogs are super hero’s that some will never understand, their love is like no other. My heart breaks to know that some dogs will never find a home simply because they are deaf. Special needs dogs have a special place in my heart and they always will. I want to be able to help others who have a deaf dog or are considering bringing a deaf dog home. My mission is to help deaf dogs and their people, to bring awareness to deaf dogs. Training a deaf dog doesn’t have to be any harder, it’s just different. Training your deaf dog should always be fun for you AND your dog most importantly. Like I stated before I believe in positive reinforcement/force free training, your hands are a form of communication for your deaf dog. Your hands should be fully trusted by them and only used in a positive manner. Training should always be force free, I don’t believe in the pack leader mind set. In my opinion it’s cruel and not valid. Let’s be our deaf dogs “snack leader” not pack leader.

I am also very passionate about caring for deaf dogs naturally. Deaf dogs tend to be more sensitive in nature and often need special care and a life as free from chemicals as possible. Whether this be nutrition, natural remedies and alternatives, etc. I am not a veterinarian but I hope to share a little bit of what I’ve learned over the years with you. I think all dogs could benefit from a natural approach but deaf dogs can be very sensitive, believe me I know from experience. There are so many ways we can limit our dogs chemical intake and toxic load, there is a multitude of ways to enhance our pups life naturally.

I am married to my high school sweet heart, we’ve been together since we were 15. He’s the best dad to our deaf pup and spoils him rotten. I couldn’t ask for a better husband to share in my crazy dog obsession. Charlie and I are so thankful for him and love him so much! My husband Matt is always going and picking up needs for Charlie’s homemade food and more often than not comes home with a toy for him too. Charlie loves when his dad smokes a steak for him on the smoker. The three of us love going on hikes together and riding our atv’s. My husband is the hardest worker I know and I couldn’t ask for a better man to have supporting my love for Deaf Wiggle Butt’s.

Savannah LeFors

Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of Savvy Dog Training, https://savvydt.com

Mom to deaf Australian cattle dog Sydney.

Savvy Dog Training Website
Instagram
Facebook

Savannah and Sidney

From Savannah: Hello! I’m Savannah LeFors, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and I have been training dogs since 2015! I was the coordinator of Tallahassee Memorial’s Animal Therapy Department and I have been screening, training, evaluating, and managing over 180 therapy animal teams that visited the Big Bend region’s healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and schools for over 2 years. I also have experience assessing and training service dogs as part of an internship.

I was raised in Saint Augustine, FL, and after moving away to get my degree in Tallahassee at Florida State, I realized my heart lives here! I am excited and passionate to help the residents of the First Coast bond with their dogs and enjoy everything our amazing coast has to offer! As a child of two Deaf parents, I am fluent in American Sign Language, so I am also thrilled to provide accessibility to dog training for all Deaf people as well!

Although I have learned a lot via reading books, attending seminars, and training clients’ dogs, I have learned the most about dog training from my Australian Cattle Dog, Sydney. Sydney is totally Deaf, so we do things a little differently! I specialize in dog body language and have learned to think outside of the box to work with Sydney, and can apply my knowledge, skills, and research in science-based, positive reinforcement training to help with you and your dog’s needs!

Natalie Rogers

Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of K9 Concepts,  https://k9concepts.com.au/

Mom to deaf boxer Havoc and hearing boxer Kaos.

K9 Concepts Website
Facebook
Youtube

Natalie with Havoc and Kaos

There is a special place in my heart for differently-abled dogs. I grew up with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, “Muffin”, who lost his sight at a young age and his hearing later as well. Muffin lived a long and happy life, and we were continually impressed with his zest for life and ability to navigate the world (mostly!) without incident.

When the opportunity arose to adopt Havoc 3 years ago, my husband and I jumped at the chance. He was an exuberant, confident, bouncing 10-week-old deaf boxer, bursting with energy – and of course those baby shark teeth! We quickly learnt that training Havoc might need some out of the box thinking. He would walk away from food in a bowl and hated the frustration of following food lures. He actually found luring so aversive that he’d turn his head away from chicken, cheese or hot dogs!

Learning patience, to self-settle and cope with frustration has been a constant in Havoc’s life. I remember vividly when he entered adolescence, he WOULD. NOT. SLEEP. He was becoming more and more distressed being left alone or behind any sort of barrier. Even a baby gate was a complete no-go. He began resource guarding anything and everything from anyone and everyone. He was snapping at real and imaginary flies, chasing dust around the skirting boards, barking with hackles up at shadows, ceiling fans, reflections, people walking around in dim light, random objects, car headlights etc etc etc…

I was in tears daily but I was determined to find a way to help him. It was time for a new approach!

Many would have labelled Havoc with every diagnosis under the sun. But having labels slapped on him would not have served him. So instead, we focused on skilling him up!

After nearly losing his life on raw food we changed to a prescription hydrolysed diet, we practiced structured rest time, started changing his relationship to barriers, rewarded calm behaviours and drastically reduced high-intensity exercise.

Havoc has thrived on games-based concept training. With fun, 3-minute games he has learnt valuable life skills. He learnt the value of calm, how to get pepped up and then settle down again, how to cope with reasonable amounts of frustration, HOW TO SLEEP!!! Wow – that was a life-changer! How to relax behind a barrier, learn patience, learn to take turns, learn that strange and novel objects results in food falling from the sky, learn that shadows, reflections and ceiling fans are nothing to worry about and that flies and dust bunnies don’t need to be chased away. Through cooperative care, he has learnt that baths, nail trimming, ear care and even injections are procedures he can control – he has the power to opt in and out, without having to resort to growling, snapping or biting. Having recently been diagnosed with cancer, we will continue to top up and rely on these skills to ensure his treatment journey is as stress-free as possible.

Havoc has become the most confident, optimistic dog who is a joy to live with. He has earnt his Champion Trick Dog Title, we do agility together and play scent games. Havoc is now a demo dog for my dog training business K9 Concepts teaching other dogs, deaf and hearing, all the valuable skills that have transformed his life and our relationship.

Karlie Waldrip

Author and mom to deaf heeler Rhett, who “deaf-initely can”.  https://www.rhetttheheeler.com/

Rhett the Heeler Website
Facebook
Instagram

Karlie and Rhett

Hi y’all my name is Karlie Waldrip, and this is my Australian Cattle Dog, Rhett, we’re both deaf from Texas! I have always been a huge dog lover growing up, it’s all because one of my elementary deaf education teachers had a deaf therapy dog that she would bring to school. She would teach us deaf students about deaf dogs, how to train them, etc. After graduating college and getting my first job as a Deaf Education teacher, I was ready to adopt a deaf dog. A co-worker of mine knew I was looking to adopt one, so she sent me a text of a picture of Rhett at a shelter in a small town. I had to meet him, once we met, I knew he was the one! Ever since he has been my shadow and best friend.

We love educating others about our deafness and how we live a “normal” life and communicate in sign language. I have grown a huge passion to educate others about deaf dogs! When individuals/families tell me they are ready to adopt one, I love helping them find the best fit for their lifestyle/family. It is so rewarding to hear and see people give them a chance! 

I am soon publishing a children’s book called “I Deaf-initely Can, Rhett the Heeler” that is written from Rhett’s perspective as a deaf dog! Check out our website at www.rhetttheheeler.com

Erin Marion

Professional Dog Trainer and “The Down to Earth Dog Lady

Down to Earth Dog Lady Website
Facebook
Instagram
Youtube

Erin and her pups

I have over eleven years of experience working with dogs. I am a certified professional dog trainer, (CPDT-KA), a Karen Pryor clicker training partner, and am certified in pet first aid.

I love all dogs and all aspects of working with dogs. I have worked in a wide range of dog-related areas – large vet hospitals, day care facilities, feed stores, dog training academies and rescues. Throughout the last eleven years I have gained a wide range of knowledge about dog behavior, health, emotional care, training, and nutrition. This broad experience has helped me immensely in understanding dogs and made me a better trainer. In 2016 my training expanded to incorporate special needs dogs, specifically deaf and/or blind dogs when I began volunteering for Deaf Dogs of Oregon. After fostering multiple special needs dogs I began to hone in on a speciality within my craft. In 2020 I adopted my first special needs dog Darla. Darla is a double merle Australian Shepherd that was born with limited hearing and almost no ability to see. Additionally I have a fully blind rough coat collie and I am preparing for my senior dog for when she loses her hearing by transferring all her cues to hand signals. I am extremely passionate about helping special needs dogs and their guardians connect more with each other through force-free methods.

Professional Credentials

  • Karen Pryor Clicker Training Academy, 2011
  • Lead dog trainer and manager for a Portland Oregon Dog Daycare, 2014 – 2016
  • Board member and foster home for the rescue Deaf Dogs of Oregon, 2016 – 2019
  • Faculty member and teacher at the Portland Oregon Whole Dog Academy, 2016 –
    2019
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer ( CCPDT-KA) since 2016
  • Pet Expert for Portland Oregon local news channel KPTV; More Good Day Oregon, 2015 – 2019
  • All4Paws Training Partner (Current)
  • Speak! St. Louis Training Partner (Current)
  • Administrator of Pandemic Puppy Raising Support Group and Speak! St. Louis Training Support (Current)

Morgan Roberts

Registered Veterinary Technician and Mom to Kora.

Visit Morgan and Kora on Facebook

Morgan and Kora

My name is Morgan Roberts. I am from NW Ohio, born and raised. I am a Registered Veterinary Technician and I also have a pet sitting business on the side. I foster for numerous rescue organizations throughout the year and our house is always guaranteed to have a foster dog or two in it. I have been in the rescue industry since 2016 and I have since worked both the shelter side of things and rescue side of things, doing many various jobs.

I didn’t start falling in love with special needs dogs until 2018, when I brought my first very own blind and deaf dog home. I was 20 years old at the time, no experience with a dog with impairments, and going through some of the most challenging times of my life. Was it a successful impulse decision? I’d say so. I’ve learned more from this one dog than I could have learned from 100 dogs. When I adopted my dog 4 years ago, I never knew there was such an issue with not only bad breeding practices causing deafness and blindness in dogs, but also a stigma around these special needs dogs being “incapable” of such great things.

There are so many “perks” and advantages to owning a deaf dog. My favorite? They sleep SO hard and when you’re training with them, they don’t get distracted by outside noises like a hearing dog would. I’ve gotten to the point where I would rather have a house full of non hearing dogs than hearing ones. They’re a job to work with and once you help them learn to communicate with their world around them, you start to see a totally changed dog in front of you. I’m beyond fortunate to be able to work along side organizations like, Deaf Dogs Rock, to help bring awareness to these amazing dogs.”