Michelle Hollow of Pet News and Views, an online blog site, has branched out and been published in Parade about a very important topic, blind and deaf dogs. Many times these special needs dogs tend to be overlooked, but Best Friends Animal Society agrees with Michelle in that these dogs are just like any other dog available for adoption.
When blind and deaf dogs are trained, the common person may not be able to tell that the dog has any issue at all. Dogs with special needs just have to learn commands and such in different ways than dogs without special needs. Other dogs are kinder than humans in that they do not distinguish between needs and no needs; all dogs are accepted to play as long as they are nice to one-another.
Recently, new research has come to light, as Ms. Hollow states in her Parade article, revealing that blind and deaf dogs are indeed very similar to dogs with normal hearing and vision. To repeat what was stated in that article, the results of this study by Valeri Farmer-Dougan of Illinois State University showed many similarities between dogs with a hearing or vision impairment and those without. The study found:
· Deaf, blind, and deaf/blind dogs are no more prone to aggression or other severe behavioral issues than any other dog; rather it is breed and rearing/living environment that are correlated with aggression and/or other severe behavior issues.
· Deaf, blind, and deaf/blind dogs bond easily with their owners, and owners are as satisfied with these dogs as owners of typical same-breed dogs.
· Deaf, blind, and deaf/blind dogs are easily trainable, or at minimum, train as easily as same-breed hearing/seeing cohorts.
Some people may even want to seek a dog with these limitations because, as the study shows, dogs with limitations were not nearly as aggressive or as excitable as those with normal vision and normal hearing functions. The dogs simply want to be accepted and to be able to extend that unconditional love that the majority of dogs have to give (unless there are other issues such as abuse that must be dealt with).
What makes these dogs so adaptable is the use of sensory input. Just like with humans, sensory integration is important with anyone or any other being that has limited sensory functions. We all have heard that the other senses take over if one has been detained.
The researchers in this case suggested toys to help enrich the dogs other senses. Vibrating toys and chew toys will help with the training sessions and to engage the dog’s brain. The dogs with vision and hearing limitations should also be enrolled in agility and/or obedience classes to help them attain the greatest skills.
The researchers surveyed 461 pet parents of canines. Of this 98 dogs were deaf or had some degree of hearing impairment; 32 dogs were blind or had partial sight; 53 dogs were both blind and deaf. The rest of the group had not such impairments.
It was great to find out that with the cooperation of various pet specialists and pet parents that the ‘blind and deaf dogs can be excellent and well-loved companion dogs.’
Thankfully Michelle Hollow shared this news for the rest of us to be able to spread. The take-away here should be that people looking for a kind and loving pet can find such pet in a dog labeled with ‘special needs.’ A little extra work will gain you many years of pet excellence!