Pets, just like people, come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, personalities and abilities.
Some pets may be born deaf (congenital deafness), others may become deaf due to old age, injuries, or medical conditions such as chronic ear infections.
But make no bones about it - deaf pets make amazing companions! They give love, and they need love just like any other pet.
We spoke with Michelle Coffill from Hear No Evil - Australian Deaf Dog Rescue to find out more.
“Deafies make amazing pets. Don't ever think that life with a deaf dog will be any harder than life with a hearing dog,” says Michelle. “Deaf dogs are really no different to hearing dogs. They make wonderful companions that can do anything a hearing dog can do.”
Here are four fab reasons to consider adopting a deaf pet:
1. They are just as trainable
“Learning to communicate with a deaf pet is easy,” said Michelle. “Just as a hearing dog doesn't know what the word ‘sit’ means, but learns the appropriate action that goes with the verbal command, deaf pets learn signed commands.
“There are many deaf dogs involved in dog sports, such as high level obedience, agility, dancing with dogs, etc. There are also many deaf therapy dogs.
“There are no rules for signing, there's no specific deaf pet language - it's simply a case of picking a sign and working with your ‘deafie’ so that they learn to associate the sign with the desired action.
“Some people with deaf pets choose to use Auslan signs for commands, but most people just pick a simple sign and, using positive training methods, teach their deafies all manner of basic obedience as well as a range of tricks.”
2. They form super strong bonds with their owner
Some pets are masters at reading human body language, and deaf pets who rely on their eyesight to read your every move are particularly skilled at this. This can create a very deep and meaningful bond between pet and owner.
“Anyone who shares their life with a deafie still talks to them - deaf dogs are very attuned to facial expressions and even though they can't hear you, if they can see you then they know you're engaging with them,” says Michelle.
3. They are a great conversation starter and lots of fun!
“Life with a deaf pet is never dull - they are fun, they are smart and they are a great conversation starter,” says Michelle.
“When people find out that a pet is deaf they are often keen to learn all about what life with a deafie is like, and it's always great fun being able to show off just how clever they are and how well they respond to signed commands.”
4. They are less reactive to noise stimuli
Yes, deaf dogs do bark, but they don’t react to a range of stimuli that a hearing dog would react to.
“Sirens, fireworks, barking dogs and other noises that would often cause a hearing dog to bark in response are all things that will never bother a deafie,” says Michelle.
“And when a deafie sleeps, noises around the house aren't ever going to wake them up.”
Michelle also adds that there are a couple of things to be mindful of when adopting a deaf pet to keep them safe.
“Deaf dogs should never be let off-leash in an unfenced area, until a very strong recall has been developed. This is really the case for all dogs - deaf or not - but if a deafie is distracted by something then all the yelling in the world isn't going to get their attention,” says Michelle.
“Deafies also can't hear dangerous things like cars approaching, so care needs to be taken to make sure deaf pets aren't allowed to roam in places where their safety is dependent on hearing.
“Because deaf dogs rely heavily on their vision, they can also be very face-forward in their interactions with other dogs. Some hearing dogs can find the face-forward nature of deafies a little off-putting initially. So, like with any dog, initial introductions between deaf and hearing dogs should be appropriately supervised.”
Hear No Evil - Australian Deaf Dog Rescue have a number of deaf dogs looking for love, and even one ‘honourary canine’ (a cat!) looking for new homes.
Banner image: Grace from Hear No Evil - Australian Deaf Dog Rescue