Zima’s Forever Home – Zima’s Happy Tail
Written by Elizabeth Crites (aka Vicky)
My husband always wanted a black lab that he could teach to hunt, so in July 2012 we bought a puppy. Mac was our baby and we had so much fun teaching her obedience and hunting! For me, it was a “no brainer” when I saw Zima’s picture on Deaf Dogs Rock Facebook page. It didn’t matter to me that she was deaf. I knew she would be the perfect addition to our family.
My husband, however, was less convinced.
My first meeting with Zima was at a pet store. She did not understand all the smells, other animals and now these new people trying to ‘talk’ to her. She was very agitated and excited….not at all the happy beginning I was hoping for.
The foster agency agreed to let me foster Zima for two weeks. We were all hoping this would give Zima a chance to get to know us and bond with Mac. In the meantime, my husband had spoken with some dog trainers. They advised him against adopting a deaf dog. Besides the “obvious” training issues, deaf dogs startle easily they told my husband. And they can be aggressive because they don’t understand what’s going on around them; this lead to a week of discussion between my husband and me. I finally convinced him that it was just a foster. If things did not work out with Zima, we would have to take her back.
Zima came to our home February 8, 2013 and there was no doubt she was staying. Zima and Mac are nearly inseparable. Besides running around the house and playing with all the toys, the girls love the fenced in backyard. They chase each other like a couple of thoroughbreds at a race. Mac hates to go on car rides now without Zima. Unfortunately, there are times it is necessary to take only one dog – like when Mac has training class.
As if Zima knew, she immediately took to Daddy. While I was working with the foster agency, Zima was in the garage with Daddy learning to sit. But she stole his heart when he took her outside and she “tracked” the birds flying over the backyard. He said to me, kind of teary eyed, “wouldn’t it be cool to teach a deaf dog to hunt?” Yes it would, babe. Yes it would!!
We are experiencing issues that require training; however, they aren’t anything different from a hearing dog. Zima spent almost two years of her life in a kennel. She had some food aggression when she first came to stay with us. With very simple, repetitive, consistent training that food aggression was gone in three days. Zima now eats her meals side by side with Mac and they drink out of the same water bowl. Zima is learning to make – and hold- eye contact. I suspect in the past she associated eye contact with aggression, but we are teaching her that it is a good thing to look at Mom and Dad. And she’s doing great!! She is terrified of handfuls of paper (if I’m holding the newspaper or the mail in one hand), sticks (like the broom or the mop), and an open raised hand. Hhhhmmmm, I wonder what that could mean…. All of these issues were easily resolved with daily training. And while I prefer Zima not be afraid of the broom and mop, my job of cleaning the kitchen is MUCH more interesting with two dogs chasing the broom and mop thinking it’s playtime. Although it is my preference to have happy dogs instead of a clean kitchen!
Zima begins her Canine Good Citizen classes in March and I’m confident she will pass that class without a problem. She has been learning to track scents alongside Mac when we play at home, so it is only natural that following her CGC I will enroll her in Nose work classes. My husband and I are looking forward to this fall when we can take her out hunting with us for the first time – because if you’re part of our family, that’s what we do. And Zima is part of our family!