My name is Emmi Goetz and here is my “Happy Tail” about my deaf puppy, Betty.
I am an audiologist, and I work with Deaf/Hard of Hearing children and adults on a daily basis. In March of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and my fiancé and I found ourselves at home with much more free time on our hands. As fate would have it, there were two deaf puppies, a brother and sister, listed on Deaf Dogs Rock’s website and they were only about two hours away from where we lived! I fell in love with the little deaf girl, “Lil Ma”, with her pink nose, blue eyes, and sweet face. My fiancé and I communicated with the breeder who was committed to finding special homes for these two puppies. I told the breeder about how I work with people with hearing loss and know some sign language, and we both thought it could be a great match. My fiancé and I drove out to rural eastern Iowa to meet the puppies and fell in love with “Lil Ma”, who we adopted and renamed Betty.
The first few weeks of training Betty were admittedly stressful. I spent my free time working on ASL or American Sign Language training. (I remember watching Tiger King in the background, as that show was very popular at the time). Betty learned several ASL cues quickly and I loved showing videos of her doing new tricks she had learned to family and friends. Betty also quickly bonded to our older hearing dog Woodford and he became her “ears” when we needed to get the dog’s attention from a distance. She loves to follow Woodford around, play with him, and annoy him, very much like a little sister and big brother! Although my partner and I had our hands full with two dogs, we loved the quiet evenings at home cuddling with the puppies on the couch. Betty is definitely a “Velcro dog”, and always wants to be next to my fiancé, her brother, or me.
Betty has also brought me an incredible amount of comfort during some very difficult, emotional times. From 2019-2021 my incredible father battled an aggressive form of cancer and was going through many ups and downs with his health. Betty’s sweet snuggles brought me so much comfort on days where I felt hopeless or sad. My dad unfortunately passed away last February, and I feel like Betty Lou has been an angel to me, reminding me that life is not all bad: there is playfulness, joy, and peace in those quiet cuddles on the couch, the early morning walks, and games of fetch. My dad loved Betty too and knew just how special she was.
I love talking about Betty with my patients, especially with the kids I work with! Betty cannot hear, but she is truly just like any other dog. She is smart and has adapted to her sensory loss, using her other senses to navigate her environment and lives a happy life. I have encouraged other audiologists and patients to consider bringing a deaf dog into their home, in hopes that they can experience the same kind of joy that I feel every day.
I’m so grateful to Deaf Dogs Rock for the work and advocacy they do for deaf dogs and puppies all over the United States. If you have it on your heart to bring a deaf dog into your family, I recommend it wholeheartedly.