Sunday, June 3, 2007
Marcel Marceau: A Love Story
I was made aware of Marcel by Catherine Brown while working on a massive dog rescue. This deaf pup was due to be put down within the week unless something was done. His owner was truly in love with him but was pregnant and had other children and could not keep one more dog as he would need special attention.
At the time I was training Rocky, my other dog, and her trainer was deaf, Eleanor. I told her about Marcel and she said she would take him. The morning I called the owner was the day he was to be put to sleep. She cried. So through a chain of events and fate, I picked him up and took him to Eleanor. Then she told me that her landlord refused another pet for her.
Now I am thinking I am stuck with this dog, but Eleanor said she would help. And help she did. Marcel's training was remarkable and he was and still is a sponge when it comes to learning. His first command was 'sit' and I think we were both as surpised at each other that he learned it. Then it snow balled. It just took patience and work EVERYDAY and he just couldn't get enough. I didn't bury him in commands. We went very slowly and he loved every minute of it.
As a hearing person, I thought this would be a huge challenge, but with the help of my nonhearing friend, Eleanor Carton (I SO wish she could see him now but we lost touch). I purchased an ASL book and had to make some of the 2 handed signs, one handed as I assumed I would always have a leash in my hand when I was with him. Oh he learned quickly.
Since the teachers in his obedience class called him a "garbage dog" (because the AKC won't accept challenged dogs), I had to show them just what this little guy could do. And we did. At my first JRTCA trial, I entered him in obedience and trailing and locating. I asked the obedience judge if Marcel could participate since he was deaf and he asked me if he could do it. I said yes. The judge said, "Then get in there!"
At the trailing and locating, all he managed to find was the food vendor, but he had fun.
He won many 1st place ribbons in obedience and people would gather to watch the deaf dog. I was so proud of him. I entered him in agility. He also won 1st place ribbons in that but we can do it on lead and let's just say, he was not that graceful. I am still working on his off lead agility.
He was used with child handlers since he does do conformation and all the other fun JRT things. He started winning for his handler, Angela. Then one day, Marcel was asked to be used for a youth handler class. The poor girl didn't know he was deaf and we did a crash course of training to work him in ONE day. THEY WON! The two became inseperable to the point he was spending time at her house on LI for a long span of time. WITHOUT me!
Ashley and Marcel worked together as a team for some 3 or 4 years. They won countles championships and ribbons together. I must say that everyone LOVES Marcel. Even my foster dogs too. He is the first dog they are introduced to. He has crawled into whelping boxes to sleep with newborn pups. He has gone to schools to teach kids about dog safety and nursing homes and hospitals as a therapy dog. He has been in 3 plays: Annie and twice in The Wizard of Oz.
I could go one forever about this wonderful dog who has brought so much into my life and introduced to so many new friends and activities. I can not imagine my life with out him. He is the JRTCA Deaf Dog poster child. He is 13 years old. I will adopt another deaf dog soon. Marcel's life has brought so much to so many. Just think of what the other deaf dogs can do if given the chance. Please give them a chance to make this happen.