Radcliff is my deaf three year-old Border Collie/ Australian Shepherd mix. I was checking the local humane society website regularly, his photo was on the site for almost three weeks. CHS’s description indicated that he was deaf, approximately 3 months old and a lost dog. I went by myself. When someone would walk into the area, all the dogs would bark. The kennels were all full, it was deafening. But he just sat there, calm and still by the gate watching me. He did not bark.
I waited a few days to see if anyone would adopt him. He was a puppy after all, and people love puppies. I asked two good friends for their opinion, both were dog people with border collies. They both told me I needed to get him. One said her dog would do what she wanted with few verbal commands because “she’s used to my body language.” The other said “if you don’t get him, they’ll put him down.” I have seen figures that one out of two animals taken to the Humane Society are put to sleep because of space.
So my husband Pat, Sandy (my hyper 13 year old collie mix) and I went to see him. Sandy is pretty wary of new dogs and if Rad passed her test, we would take him home. The volunteer that brought him to us said he was a really good puppy. Sandy did not like the smell and the sounds of the facility. She just wanted to get out of there -she did not really have any issue with Radcliff, he was pretty mellow.
We were getting ready to do the paperwork and the person at the desk told Pat that it would take a year to housetrain Radcliff because he was deaf and that someone should be with him full time. When I asked if anyone else had asked to see him, she said one woman who was a dog trainer looked at him but was not going to adopt him because her dog did not get along with him. Pat was concerned so we left without Radcliff. On the drive home, he said “I think we should wait and get a normal dog.” All I could think was that no one would adopt him because that desk person would discourage anyone from taking him home.
The next morning, I was talking to Pat about Radcliff and I realized that he was not listening to me. At that instant, I knew it would be easier to train Radcliff. I went to CHS after work and adopted Radcliff. And that’s how I came to adopt my special needs dog for my special needs husband.
He is a happy dog with an easy-going personality. He has learned hand signals and has been through private obedience classes and group classes.
When he was a puppy, he would run around the yard with sticks bigger than he was. Sticks were always cheap entertainment for him. The plastic lawn edging was also a favorite chew toy. I would look outside and he would have six feet of lawn edging pulled up and putting all his weight and effort into pulling the rest of it up.
He loves frisbees, but balls are his favorite toys. When he has a ball in his mouth and another one is laying nearby, you can see his frustration because he stares at the other with one in his mouth, he definitely has the herding instinct! He is a team player with other dogs, rolling the ball to other dogs so they can bring it to me.
Ina, our Belgian Shepherd mix, loves Radcliff. They chase each other around the living room furniture full speed, stop and get really quiet staring each other down. Then, they will body slam each other, rolling around making noises until one decides to chase the other all over again.
My husband readily now admits that Radcliff is his favorite dog. I try to advocate adopting deaf dogs with every opportunity. I would take him to my vet clinic for puppy daycare so they could get used to working with him with hand signs because they had never had a deaf dog. A few months ago, the clinic contacted me because they no longer had the list of hand signals because the staff knew the signals, but they wanted to give the list to someone who was adopting a deaf puppy. He is in the Deaf Dogs photo book projects by Melissa Mcdaniel.
I hope you will share his happy tails story on your blog. I enjoy reading it – I’ve thought about starting a blog but could never do as good of a job as you!
Note from Deaf Dogs Rock: Radcliff is one of the deaf dogs featured in Melissa McDaniel’s DEAFDOGS