We thought it only appropriate to let Darlene share her story of adopting a "less adoptable" pet...
“Bella Luna” (Beautiful Moon), or just Bella, is our Deaf Dog that Rocks!!
Knows the following hand signals (though she doesn't necessarily listen all the time): "sit", "stay", "come", "eat", "give", "good girl", "no!", "easy", "kiss", "silly", "what?" and "go".
She shares her home with several cats, a 13.5 yr old lab (the boss) and a 1 yr old boxer mix (other 1/2 of mischief).
Months after our blue heeler, Willow, passed at the age of 12 years we were looking to adopt. The Catahoula breed peeked our interest, however the few adoptables we had sought out would need to be transported quite a distance at our expense. We backed off on looking for a while, then found Bella (then named Onyx) on petfinder.org. There she was with the little "special needs" heart stamp beside her photo.
She would certainly have a story to tell about her first 4 months as a pup - was it abuse? An accident? Or perhaps an attack? We may never know, but when she arrived into the safety of rescue, Bella had a few scarred toes and a tail that is missing a few inches. And was she deaf before or after these other physical changes to her?
Whatever happened, we knew Bella definitely would be "different" and we knew adopting Bella would be opening a new chapter in our lives. I guess adjusting has always been apart of our lives, at least looking back over a decade starting with a FIV+ kitty and another we were fostering for a lady who told me there was "no place in adoption for a damaged kitten" (yea, we kept that "foster"). We don't even think about anything being so wrong that an animal doesn't deserve a home or that we can't adjust to something - adding a ramp, giving medications, etc. After all, anything throughout their life can alter what may start off as even the "perfect" animal.
So, a deaf dog? Why not! With some research on caring for a deaf dog, we decided we were up for the challenge. We drove two hours to meet her and knew she was ours! Life is about experiences and now ours includes signing along with all the fun and typical challenges that come with raising a dog from a pup to now, a young adult at 1.5 years.
Bella knows many hand signals and this will only grow. There are some deafies out there that know an upwards of 20-30 signs. We have adapted to signaling and use it often, even with our hearing abled pups as well. It has become a part of our vocabulary. I've even caught my self using it with people I know! We sometimes require extra patience with Bella, which can be attributed to her deafness ... or the fact that she is still a puppy and "listens" when she feels like it. She is our only pup to have ever participated in agility and she has even won a costume contest (no stage fright for her)! We are very proud of her ribbons.
If I had to say anything about adopting a special needs pet, it'd be education through research and following subject related chat sites are key to a special needs adoption. Everyone in the household should agree on making any adjustments that might be necessary to care for the animal too. There are adjustments (we got the Catahoula we wanted, but she was deaf), some minor and some major, when you adopt a special pet, but to us, Bella is worth every bit of "different" that she is.
If you're considering adopting a deafie, a source for valuable information and adoptable deaf dogs can be found at www.deafdogsrock.com.