What’s That? I Can’t Hear You.

Today was very exciting.  TWooie located a portal to another dimension.

He was thrilled.  I think he was planning to use it to escape from Faith.

Faith is our new foster dog.  Do you think her name suits her?  Not that it matters, she can’t hear it anyway.  Faith is deaf as a doornail and doesn’t care what you call her.  I’ve taken to calling her “Wide-o.”  Not because of her girth, though it wouldn’t kill her to lose a couple a pounds or three, but rather because of her personality.  Faith fancies herself a bit of a hard man, and isn’t adverse to having a square go with her arch rival, TWooie.

I’m trying to look happy, but really I’m not having any fun.

It started off very promising … I brought Faith home with me from work, where her previous owner had dropped her with me, and TWooie greeted her outside in the yard really rather pleasantly, for which he received oodles of turkey jerky and much cooing praise from yours truly.  He behaved like a gentleman for the entire walk.  Then he realized she was coming into his house, and his whole attitude changed.  Now he hated Faith and wanted her dead, and made it very clear to her that he resented her.

The problem?  Faith couldn’t hear him grumbling, and to be honest, I don’t think she would have cared if she had.  TWooie launched at her like a WWII submarine, and Faith took him on handily.  She lost a couple of teeth in the process (no kidding) but that didn’t phase her.  And it hasn’t phased her since.  They’ve had several skirmishes in the last 24 hours, though I do my best to minimize them, and Faith does something that is *guaranteed* to start the scrapping all over again; when I pull them apart, she then stands and stares at TWooie, much the same way she stares at the cats, or the chickens.  This both unnerves and enrages TWooie, who makes all kinds of “go away” sounds and faces at her, but she continues staring until he’s compelled to take her on again.

From her perspective, she probably just doesn’t want to turn her back on him, since she can’t hear him coming.  But from his perspective, it’s like she’s saying “Come ahead son, and we’ll step outside.”

TWooie issues aside, Faith is a very nice dog.  She is quite sociable with the other dogs and there is not a person on the planet she does not love, and would not like to greet with a full body wag and this funny little happy dance that she does, including kids.  She’s a little too interested in / stare-y at my cats for my (or their) liking, but on the plus side, I can keep her entertained for an hour at a time by standing her in front of the chicken coop and going about my business ;-)

She has an excellent recall; all you need to do is catch her attention by waving at her, which seems to be a dual signal for both “pay attention” and “come here as fast as your legs will bring you.”  Tonight I discovered that if you point at a dog bed, she will go lay down in it and not move again until you smile at her.  She also has a hand signal for “lie down” (though not a very practical one, as it involves bending over and pointing at the floor) and a hand signal for “you’re being bad”  which makes her drop her head and look miserable.  Sadly, she doesn’t seem to have a hand signal for “you’re being good” and I wonder how anyone has ever told her that she is a good dog.  We are working on “thumbs up” as a signal she has done the right thing.

She’s a very pretty thing, and really affectionate and of course makes great eye contact. She’s a good sized dog, and towers over everyone except Dexter.

But have you ever tried to work with a deaf dog?  My default is to talk to her, all the time, and every second sentence I utter is appended with “you can’t hear me.”  When she’s whining, every fibre of my being wants to say “SHH!”  And today while my parents were out here, TWooie got into a fight with the neighbours’ dog through the fence (the pit bull tore up his chin, poor guy … he brings it on himself, but he was so upset and crying and crying.  I wanted to throttle and snuzzle him all at once) and while I was running across the yard to rescue him I called to my mum to go collect the deaf dog, who was in the lower pasture staring at turkeys.  My mum said “What’s her name again?” and I said “Who?” and she said “The deaf dog!” and I just started at her for a moment and then she went “duh” and left to go get Faith’s attention.  ha ha ha.

Piper is in her glory, because she has lots of scraps to break up.  Faith does not dare take on Piper, and since she can’t hear Piper growling at her to stop fighting with TWoo, Piper gets to get in there and fight dirty and drive off the interloper.

Queen Bitch status; I haz it.

She’s pretty full of herself as a result.

Poor Tweed.

I’m an old man … can’t you let me age in peace?

Speaking of peace, I finally have some at nights.  The turkeys have been moved to their own pen in the lower pasture, far far away from my head at bed time.  The roosters, the whole lot of them, have allegedly been sold to other people and as of today, I will supposedly hear them no more.  But my neighbours have become what I can only describe as “farm animal brokers.”  They are buying and selling livestock like you wouldn’t believe.  Every day when I come home, it feels like, there are new animals in their yard.  Yesterday there were like 50 chickens, two new lambs, about 25 bunnies and a (far too small) cage of ducks.  And last week I came home to find these in the upper pasture:

Or more correctly, in an 8’X8′ pen in the upper pasture.  Our fields are not fenced adequately to keep livestock in (or to keep WooTWoo out) so almost all their animals are in their backyard, but the llamas tried to stomp their pig to death and they were forced to move them.  So the llamas have to live in this tiny little pen.  Just looking at them makes my blood pressure rise, because I know llamas do not enjoy being penned into tiny little quarters with no exercise.  I asked my neighbour why the hell he got llamas and he said with glee that they were only $5.00 at the auction, and he was going to resell them and make a killing.  I did not possess the self control to tell him that llamas are the pyramid scheme of the livestock world – people kept selling other people llamas for a fortune until everyone had llamas and then they all figured out that llamas are good for nothing, and there is no legitimate market for them – without wringing his neck.  So instead I try to visit the llamas every day and give them a tasty treat of some kind, because I feel so bad for them.  I’m wondering if it is possible to take them for a walk.

My neighbours have really put the cart before the horse (and they better not show up with any horses or I will Lose My Shit) and I do not understand why they don’t spend their money fencing the fields and preparing proper enclosures *before* acquiring new animals.  As it is, I am |thisclose| to sneaking over there in the dead of night and freeing the ducks from the friggin’ hamster cage they’re stuck in :(



Anyway.  My parents were here today because my stepdad finished the base supports for my new dog walk, and and he brought me clamps so I could glue together the planks for the walk itself.  And The Sadist lent me a set of 12 weave poles, with the proper spacing, so we can perfect them at home.  I’m psyched about the additional opportunities to practice, because my baby dog is *such* a keener!

Yay!  I’m a keener!

Whenever I let everyone out to pee, he first leads the WooTWoo on a very fast and wild good chase down to the pasture and back, and then he goes and stands in the agility hard and glares at the front door, demanding it open and I come forth and practice with him.  I have *never* practiced agility in my pajamas first thing in the morning, so I don’t know why he thinks we are going to start now, but he does it every day.

Maybe I can teach Faith to play agility!  She seems to want to do everything Dexter does anyway.

But hopefully she won’t be here that long.  Faith will go up for adoption shortly, and she is going to make someone a fabulous best buddy.  She’s just too much fun!  Watch for her on our website.


  1. I live with a deaf cat, rather than a deaf dog, but so many of the problems are familiar! Especially the lack of volume control, which is great fun when combined with a cat who’s got a large chunk of something Siamese in her make-up.

  2. If her “down” signal is that well, “home-ownerish”, have you tried something similarly silly for “good girl”? Like maybe clapping your hands together next to your face while you squeal joyously? I know she can’t hear it but she could see the hands and the contortions of your face. Just a thought.

    Some day I will write about the proper use of the word “home owner” as reserved by construction workers. Said with a sneer it conveys the utmost in contempt for a DIYer that has no common sense worth speaking of. Unfortunately I don’t know the dog-world equivalent of this term.

  3. Faith is a real beauty & i love her name!

    I recently lost my 4 yr old deaf white male boxer,uncle leo. i always told people ‘he’s not aloof, he’s deaf’. he came to me as a foster when he was 1 yr old. i recently started fostering an 8 months old deaf white boxer boy who only knew a couple of signs when he came to me. he’s learning very quickly, i really enjoy training deaf dogs, they’re so attentive! it’s good to talk to deaf dogs for lots of reasons, but mostly b/c it keeps your facial expressions ‘real’, which is very important since they’re relying on their visual system for communication with their humans. i even made up a song for my boy to the tune the ice cream truck played over & over in the neighborhood. i used to sing it to him all the time!

    i use thumbs up for ‘good boy’, it was also his sign for ‘carry on’. he’d check in with me so much when he was playing that i just started using it all the time. it worked for us.

    uncle leo wasn’t so great at reading other dogs body language, i think that was partly my fault. my female didn’t like other dogs except for uncle leo, so he wasn’t around other dogs until after she passed. uncle leo loved everyone & everything, so it didn’t matter much, even icky dogs at the dog park left him alone most of the time & he was never more than a couple steps away from me, in case he ever got into trouble. i have noticed my puppy is very good about reading other dogs and knowing when to back off.

    there are some great video’s on youtube for training deaf dogs. this one will show you how to sign a ‘click’, which was a huge help for me, because i’m not very creative and hadn’t come up with a smooth ‘click’. it’s not so easy clicker training a deaf dog with only 2 hands. you have to sign the command, sign the click and give them their treat… not easy if you’re not very coordinated, like me.


    i hope faith finds her forever home very soon, in the meantime what a lucky girl she is to be home with you, even if twooie disagrees! :)

  4. Keep going on the signing – our farrier used to have a deaf BC cross who knew 75 different signs. Also, here in the Northern Plains, there is at least some market for llamas as livestock guards and mountain pack animals, so maybe these folks can sell the poor things soon. Good luck with all the revolving livestock, and hope you can keep Woo/Twoo out of the rabbits!

  5. I have a deaf Aussie/bc mix, who I have the opposite problem when it comes to growling, she is the one who growls at everyone, I love your blog as Mikka (my deaf one) is just like Twoo. She does the growling and the other dogs give her a warning growl and she does not back down. I am trying to work on it (as I foster for blind dog rescue alliance and she hates everyone I bring home).

    You talked about talking to the deaf dog, that is actually a good thing. Your energy and expressions are different when you say and sign good dog then when you just sign it. And they do read your energy as much as your expression. (thus why I am having issues getting control of her aggressive behavior as I am frustrated and pissed off when I am working with her)

    I use the thumbs up for good job and praise.
    And as for “clicker” traning, I have made my clicker, with the idea coming from a fellow Wootube fan. I took a flashlight hand have cups to diffuse the light, it is much easier then a sign. And she is starting to get it.

  6. I had a deaf cat for 11 years, and he knew some hand signals. I would beckon to get him to come to me, whereas a wave just meant I was saying hi. If I wanted him to come snuggle with me, I could pat my lap or the bed or couch next to me, and he would come jump up. I also discovered that stomping was a good way to get his attention, as he would look around to see where the vibrations came from. His only vice was that he would talk to himself, except that he would do it at the top of his lungs, not knowing what he was doing — and he had a bad habit of doing it in the middle of the night. I think that’s why he got dumped and ended up at a rescue. I hope someone Faith will find a new mommy or daddy who is willing to deal with the unique challenges of a deaf animal.

  7. That should read, “I hope Faith will find…” Mental note: Always reread after editing blog comments mid-thought.

  8. Faith is utterly gorgeous. It’s a shame her and TWooie don’t understand each other but I’m sure you’ll find a way to work it all out.

  9. clairesmum says:

    Faith is a beauty! I notice she seems to have one blue and one brown eye – like Woo and Twoo. Seems like your pack is all responding as you would expect – but what about the Woo? Is his injury healing up ok? If he is restricted in his activity that alone might make the Twoo rather cross – plus someone competing for your attention! Take care and stay warm – another 18 inches of snow on the way here in New England.

  10. Ha! Finally a dog sharing my name though she is much prettier. I am sure you know there are electronic collars for deaf dogs. Instead of a shock, they give little “ripples” that can be trained as commands – the most important one being a recall when the dog can’t see you. As others have said, hand signals and facial expressions can teach all the common commands.

    Twooie is a little bugger, isn’t he? Does Faith just stare or does she give go-away growls? Does she talk/bark at all? Poor girl, probably never got to learn dog-speak.

    I miss pictures of Woo. Is his flamboyance growing back?

  11. I used to have a deaf husband, does that count? :-) All our dogs learned commands in American Sign Language, but in our case it was for the benefit of the human.

    When I needed my ex-husband’s attention and he wasn’t looking, I used to stomp on the floor. He could feel the vibrations and would turn around. If we were outside, though, like you I would wave to catch his attention. His peripheral vision was pretty good so this usually worked, but sometimes I wound up looking as though I were landing airplanes, LOL. There were certainly times I’d loved to have had a ripple collar, LOL. What a great idea.

    Faith is a lovely girl and I hope she’ll make someone a great companion soon.

  12. My oh my, look at the tail on Twooie! Poor Wootie must be so jealous. I sure hope his Flamboyance is growing back all right.

  13. Aw, she is a beauty!

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