Luna’s Happy Tail by Camille Snyder
Six years ago I was on a mission to add a furry baby to my pack, so I met a two year old dog in a shelter who I was told was deaf. At the time I’d never met a deaf animal and I was totally unsure of what type of challenges I would be getting myself into, so I started my research. Deaf Dogs Rock was one of the first resources I came across. I thought “these people are really making me believe that this is something that I could do, and that there are so many deaf dogs looking for homes, but I wonder exactly how difficult this could ultimately be”.
The more I researched deaf dogs, the more I learned about the struggles that special needs animals face when looking for permanent homes. I also learned about all of the irresponsible breeders and traditional breeding practices that created these helpless animals that would either ends up being culled or doomed to the fate of shelters while being shunned by the average adopter walking through a shelter looking to adopt a normal dog. Ultimately I learned tons and tons on how to communicate with and train deaf dogs. I felt like I could maybe do this thing called raising and living with a deaf dog. So, I brought my current dog up to meet the deaf dog I was hoping to adopt at the shelter, and I was really upset when it seemed like these 2 dogs would not get along. Even though I had my heart set on being someone who could step up the plate and adopting and caring for special needs deaf animal, I knew I had to move on and keep looking for a good fit form my dog at home.
A few months later I stumbled upon a litter of puppies online, all of them brown and some dark brindle except one little pit bull puppy who was white and spotted all over. I immediately messaged the family – is she blind, is she deaf, because she clearly is a double merle? They told me no but this was an accidental litter with neighbor’s dog, but that she and the other puppies were 8 weeks old and healthy so the next day I picked her up.
The next month with my newest little Luna (I named her that because of all the spots on her that looked like craters and she looked like the moon) were generally normal puppy weeks. She was learning quickly, and she was surprisingly easy to train even at such a young age. Until one day when she was around 12 weeks old, I came home and saw her staring out the window facing away from me. I was calling to her “Luna LUNA LUNA I’M HOME!!!!”, and then it just absolutely clicked and dawned on me that wow, LUNA IS DEAF, like full blown zero hearing.
I couldn’t believe it took me so long to learn she is deaf when in hindsight it was all right there in front of me, even after learning so much about deaf dogs! She was learning “come here” so quickly, but it’s because I was unknowingly was signing with my hands every time for her to come to me. She didn’t seem out of the ordinary, because we had another dog around all the time who she could follow along and learn from. I thought she wasn’t fully learning her name, because she’s just a puppy and gets distracted easily. Then just like that I was caring for a deaf dog, and I thought it was just as easy as training any other puppy in the world.
Photo above: -I call her my cat! People always talk about how they have “cats that act like dogs”…well Luna is a dog that acts like a cat! She’s nimble, quick, and I caught her perched on the windowsill on a few occasions. She’s incredibly vocal in expressing her feelings, something I didn’t expect from a deaf dog.
Now, she’s the happiest, healthiest, five year old deaf pup who we take out to new places to meet new people. We tell every single person we meet that not only is Luna deaf, but she is JUST like every other dog. We share with all of them that they should consider adopting a special needs animal when they start to look for a new animal to add to their families. I think it’s a huge benefit that I can communicate with her through signs, and I’ve found so much joy in teaching people how to sign to her. I also think it’s fantastic that she doesn’t get distracted by sounds(which we consider her superpower), and her focus is always on me. That being said, I constantly peruse the Deaf Dogs Rocks adoptable page, and as soon as I move into my next house with a yard I will be adding another deaf pupper to my family.
Thank you to this fantastic Deaf Dogs Rock community and thank you for the hard work you guys put into finding homes for all of the amazing dogs out there who need it. ~ Camille Snyder