Rockers, we were so excited to hear Dahlia’s foster family has decided to make it official and adopt her! Thanks to Kirsten Stade for fostering shelter pups and also for bringing awareness to deaf dogs through her writing. Welcome home Dahlia, welcome home!
According to my deaf dogs Nitro, Bud, and myself, the Stade family totally ROCKS!
~ Christina, Nitro and Bud – Deaf Dogs Rock
Dahlia’s Happy Tail by Kirstin Stade.
My boyfriend and I foster regularly with the Washington Humane Society, and when we were last ready for a new foster pup the shelter introduced us to Dahlia–a petite, white pocket pit bull with red-brown spots that make her look like a little cow.
The picture they sent me was of a serious little dog with a worried expression, but the shelter staff said it was the best picture they could get of her in the shelter. So imagine my surprise when I brought my dog Fozzie to meet her, and she immediately flipped over on her back and rolled around, joyously convulsing, then zoomed around the room, humping Fozzie and wrestling with him with a maniacally happy grin splitting her little face!
Also imagine my surprise when I was told of her deafness. I had never fostered a deaf dog before, but was given a list of hand signals and training tips for deaf dogs and felt reasonably well prepared to give it a try.
As it turned out, her deafness was the least of our worries! The real question was how to get this little maniac to settle down. The shelter told us she was about 5 years old based on the amount of tartar on her teeth. But within a few weeks of being on a better diet (she was rescued from a bad situation where she was bred and her puppies sold), her teeth looked brand new and from her behavior, I had trouble believing she was much beyond the peak pain-in-the-butt puppy years.
Every evening was an exhausting circus show where it was impossible to be just a spectator. For about 5 hours, from after work to bedtime, she would zoom around the living room, hump anything that moved, chew on humans’ arms and legs, and taunt Fozzie with little nips until he consented to play, after which they would both wrestle and roll around. We took her hiking, took her paddle boarding, took her for play dates with other dogs and got her to zoom around the back yard and roll in her doggie pool in a quest to tire her out. I got out the training treats every evening and taught her to sit, down, roll over, crawl, shake both paws, climb onto an exercise ball, and balance on back paws.
We took on another little white deaf pit bull for a short-term foster, and she and Dahlia zoomed around and wrestled and had zany fun until that dog was adopted.
We slathered sunblock on her pink ears and nose and took her camping and to swimming holes and to the ocean. Though we were cautious, it soon became apparent that we could let her off leash because her sole desire was always to be near Fozzie, where she could hump him. Fozzie got annoyed sometimes for sure, and we got in the habit of leashing or tethering her for little time outs when she wouldn’t leave him alone. I think partly because she is deaf, she was oblivious to Fozzie’s signals–but overall and in spite of it all he seemed to like her.
And more and more it was impossible to deny that we loved her too. Something about Dahlia—her little pink face, her abundant kisses accompanied by a blissfully wagging tail, her snorting noises when she yawns, sniffs, or kisses, her deep, snoring sleep, usually with one back paw extended out behind her, her affection and desire to be as close as possible—just melted our hearts.
And though we halfheartedly left her profile online for almost a year, we never heard from a prospective adopter. This seems completely crazy, as we know now that deaf dogs are even better than hearing dogs in so many ways—they don’t bark at doorbells, don’t get upset when humans argue, don’t wake up when you come home, don’t get underfoot as soon as sounds of food preparation emanate from the kitchen—but was obviously meant to be.
We finally officially foster failed with Dahlia. She is still a little maniac, but still painfully adorable and affectionate and has mellowed out enough that we even plan to start fostering again soon. Hopefully two little maniacs will in some ways be easier than one, and we’ll be able to resist foster failing yet again!