Deaf Dog Learns Sign Language

As the owner of a senior dog with hip dysplasia, I have learned to adapt to the hassle of frequent visits to the vet and having to haul all 28 kilograms of my retriever-spitz mix Charley up the stairs every evening. Charley, who is perfectly functional in all other aspects (save for faltering vision in her right eye), is a handful. So hearing about Blue, a hard-of-hearing pit bull who learned sign language in only a few months, had me speechless.

Cops discovered [Blue] chained to a fence, abandoned and freezing, on West 170th Street in Washington Heights.

“At first we thought she was just scared and confused,” said Victoria Wells, the senior manager of behavior at the ASPCA rescue center. “But then we noticed whenever someone opened Blue’s kennel, she’d sleep right through all the commotion.”

“Any dog with a good sense of hearing would have been startled,”

In an attempt to boost Blue’s chances of finding a forever home, seven behavior specialists from the ASPCA trained Blue to understand signing.

First, Blue learned the “thumbs-up” signal.

Twenty-five other signals followed —come, sit, watch, stay… and lie down.

The ASPCA treats ten to twenty deaf dogs each year. According to them, Blue is ready for adoption.

Now if only I could get Charley to quit doing her business on the couch…

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