Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chloe, Deaf Dog: From Unruly To Disciplined In An Hour!

When I first learned about Chloe, check the earlier post who has been in the shelter for 3 months (3 months is the limit at that shelter), and I posted her on Deaf Animal Row. I called the shelter, Michelle – the volunteer in particular, to express my concern about the Deaf community not being made aware the entire 3 months to help increase the chance she was there until now. Michelle joined the 3rd month as a volunteer Chloe was there and it is the reason why we found out about Chloe. She has been great and is on our side.

I am currently not in a situation where fostering is possible as much as I want to even though I have done a lot of animals rescue in the past. Judy Gough (owned by deaf dogs/cats), Ella Mae Lentz (owned by deaf dogs/cats) and Hetty Rothenberg (all in California) were kind to offer to foster Chloe even if Chloe is on the Northeast side! It is no wonder that 4 or 5 cities in California tops as the most humane cities. Ella Mae and Judy decided to let Hetty experience being a foster mom as they have had ample opportunities, but they agreed dogsit Chloe for Hetty when Hetty goes on vacation. I explained to them I hope someone from Northeast will step up to foster or adopt and Hetty can be a back up if all else fails. Raychelle Harris’s friend told her about NJ-L and did her a favor by posting about Chloe for us. Meghan Rainone, who lives in New Jersey with a deaf dog whom I alerted her about 2 years ago when her dog was on deathrow, would like to foster her but where she’s staying wouldn’t allow 2nd dog. They asked me to go to the shelter to observe the dog – two hours drive – and Ella, Hetty and Judy would help reimburse me for the cost of gas and tolls.

Off I went. Almost 2 hours passed and it was easy to get there, I went into the shelter. I informed someone at the desk that I’m looking for Michelle and as I waited, I saw Chloe, through the glass window, in her kennel being visual to the commotion around her. Michelle leaned over and mouthed, “Are you Katherine?” I said yes and off we went to Chloe’s kennel to put leash on her before going to the outdoor pen. As we walked towards to the outdoor pen, a few things I noticed about Chloe. Lack of eye contact, no sense of boundaries and touching is foreign to her.

We got into the pen. I gave her one slice of cheese to help establish bonding. Because I read about why Chloe was given up due to her tendency to jump on people and play rough, I decided to work on that one and knew it’ll be a piece of cake. What I did was, I ran around the pen with Chloe and she got excited. When she got excited, she jumped on me and I squirted her with the water spray. I did on purpose and instructed her to jump on me by using this gesture – hands banging on my chest – and when she jumped on me, I squirted at her. When I do that gesture again, she ignored me. She learned to stop doing any of jumping on me or Michelle. Chloe seems to understand that water spray is for unacceptable behavior. One time she was using her leash as a tug of war to play with me. When I tried to get her to let go the leash, she wouldn't. I told Michelle to get the water spray and all she did was show the water spray, Chloe let it go and ran while squinting her eyes in case she’s being sprayed at.

Before I taught Chloe the commands, I had to work on developing her eye contact and get her used to my touching when I tried to get her attention. First, I played with her where it involved touching on her body. She would run away when I touch her but it slowly got better the more she is used to it. Her attention span is all over places and I would move her head in my direction and have her look at me. After a while, I began teaching her ASL commands for sit, lay down, friend and stay with cheese in my hand, of course! When her yummy meal arrived, this other volunteer plans to give it to her. I asked her to give the dish to me. I made Chloe sit and stay until I put the dish on the ground before she can eat it. Chloe did. Michelle was impressed and in awe how quickly Chloe learned what I have taught her.

I explained to Michelle that it is the problem with many people who keep a deaf puppy because they’re cute without ever giving visual training or accommodations to a deaf dog needs. When they get older, they’re unmanageable, thus given up or get dumped at a shelter with euthanasia in sight. Chloe is about one year old and she knew nothing throughout her puppyhood until now. After two hours of stay, I thanked Michelle for everything and her time. I told her that we consider her an ally. It was hard leaving Chloe. Michelle was aware of a foster home available in California as a last resort.

The next day, all of us, Ella Mae, Hetty, Judy, Meghan, Raychelle and I got an email from Michelle with great news that Chloe has been adopted. Chloe was adopted by a guy who owned another deaf dog. They were introduced at the shelter and hit it off beautifully. I am grateful to people like Ella Mae, Hetty, Judy, Meghan and Raychelle for their commitment and support in helping deaf animals. Chloe was saved from euthanasia.

For years, deaf animals are deemed worthless and it still happens. It is high time that we, the signing community, put an end to turning the other cheek when it comes to the welfare of deaf animals and educate the public at large. If it doesn’t start with us, how else do we expect hearing people to value deaf animals? Stealing JFK’s quote: Ask what you can do for deaf animals on Deaf Animal Row, not what Deaf Animal Row can do for you :) Hope you will join us in this cause and develop a better network in every state to save deaf animals from deathrow. Let’s show everyone what the Deaf community is all about when it comes to the power of networking, given its close knitted nature.

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