Since this was National Deaf Dog week, we wanted to highlight one of our Blum families who has a deaf dog. Stephanie Hentz and Stacie Erck own Trooper, a 7-year-old Beagle, who has been deaf since birth. Trooper was the smallest in his litter, and shortly after he was born, the breeder realized he was sleeping through his feeding times. After running tests, another veterinarian determined that Trooper was deaf, and because the breeder already had 6 dogs of her own, she turned to Homeless Hounds to help find his forever home.
While some people may be wary of owning a deaf dog, Stephanie said, “Having a deaf dog is very similar to having a hearing dog with very few exceptions. Trooper plays, begs for food, has learned commands, snuggles, is mischievous and loves being outdoors like any other dog. The only differences are that he learned commands by sign language, he doesn’t wake up from sleeping unless someone wakes him, and his bark sounds different than most.”
In fact, Stephanie said there were only two challenges in having a deaf dog versus a dog that can hear. Instead of being able to communicate with verbal cues, they had to train him with signs. Luckily because Trooper is very food motivated, it was easy for him to learn. He knows sign for sit, stay, down, no, quiet and come! The only difficult command is “come” since eye contact is necessary for Trooper to see the sign. The other challenge is because he cannot hear, Trooper does not know how loud he can be when he gets excited. Although his bay or bark can be endearing to Stephanie and Stacie, they taught him the “quiet” command when it gets too loud.
Trooper has a sister named June Bug, who can hear, and they have developed a very strong bond. While Trooper tries to be the dominant dog, he does rely on June Bug to tell him what’s going on around him. Stephanie said, “For instance, they will be let out into the back yard and Trooper watches June to see if there is anything important to bark at right away. If June barks, Trooper barks. Trooper likes to sleep touching June because once asleep, he doesn’t hear anything and won’t wake up if people come in the room.”
Trooper has found an amazing home and has two owners who are very patient and caring towards understanding how best to communicate with him!
Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.