Sign language used to train deaf dogs

Charlene Sakoda
Odd News

The Central Nebraska Humane Society (CNHS) in Grand Island is using sign language to connect with one of their deaf dogs at the shelter. KFXL reported that Rosie, a 4-year-old pit bull mix, is learning more everyday with volunteer Tracie Pfeifle. "It's the only way to communicate with her," said Pfeifle, who attempted to try signing with Rosie after she saw it working with her neighbor’s deaf dog. Using simple signs, Pfeifle has already communicated with Rosie signing “good girl,” taught her how to “sit,” and is currently working on the sign for “outside.” Laurie Dethloff, CNHS Executive Director, told the station, “[Rosie] being able to understand, 'oh this is what you want,' and being able to do it [is exciting]."

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The communication method not only helps the human and dog bond, but also increases the chance that a hearing impaired dog will lead a better life. Dethloff said, "They could be set up for abuse or neglect because they don't know how to interact and, if they do interact, it's not appropriate."

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Another deaf pit bull mix at CNHS named Noah, is being taught side-by-side with his non-hearing impaired buddy, Saint. The two are inseparable and reportedly only get along with each other. Dethloff explained, "It's going to be behaviorally and emotionally a lot more stable for both of them to have each other to learn off of."

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The dogs are all up for adoption at CNHS now and the shelter hopes to find Noah and Saint a home together. Pfeifle says that the deaf dogs are special adding, "I think they're more sensitive to how you are feeling…A lot of people don't know they have a deaf dog. When they figure it out, all of the sudden you find out you have this really amazing animal."

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Video and more info: KFXL