Special Needs Hounds - Greyhounds
Special needs hounds come in all forms both physical and emotional. When choosing a new member of your family please don’t let a small abnormality discourage you from sharing your home with them.
Greyhounds Will Experience Injuries
Greyhounds very often will experience injuries during their racing careers resulting in cuts, broken bones and a variety of other injuries as well as diseases. This does not mean that they are not good candidates for adoption; they are just special needs hounds that just need a little extra care. With each rehabilitee I have seen such a profound love from these dogs that the small amount of time invested in their care is given back over and over again. Truly they know you have saved their lives, made them well and love you all the more.
I have seen greyhounds which have had to have limbs amputated due to injury or disease that run on the beach and bounce around. They don’t care that only three feet hit the ground they keep up with the four legged playmates.
Adopt a Shelter Dog
My son and his wife decided to adopt a shelter dog. They went to the shelter and took a look at the many dogs that were available for adoption. A nice female Dalmatian caught their eyes; she was gentle and young enough to have a lot of spunk but not a puppy needing house training. She seemed to like them also and the paperwork was filled out for her to come home with them.
When they went back to pick her up to come to her new forever home my son noticed another Dalmatian sitting in a corner of one of the pens. She was smaller than the girl they had already chosen and had pretty blue eyes. So, my son asked about her story.
She was a young, healthy female but she was one of the special needs hounds. She was deaf. Her people did not know how to deal with her so they surrendered her to the shelter. Well my son—who is of the same mind set as his mother—decided that he could not just let this cute little girl stay in a shelter. He felt she needed to be in a home with the other Dalmatian already set to come home with them. He knew that often a dog with special needs is better off with another “well adjusted” dog to learn from.A Special Needs Hound
The shelter people explained what would be required to maintain special needs hounds. The first and one of the most important things was to have a fenced yard. They already had a fenced yard so that was no problem. They explained that deaf dogs can learn sign language for commands; you just have to get their attention by flashing a light or hitting the floor so they feel the vibration. She could never be without a leash if she was not in the fenced yard. Deaf dogs can’t hear traffic noise or a predator so they are very vulnerable.
They were willing to put in the extra time and they brought both girls home—their forever home. Lots of patience is required but in the case of this little girl it paid off for them all. Sky and Amber came home.
Sky Would Not Obey Verbal Commands
It did take some time for them to remember that Sky would not obey verbal commands and learned to stomp their foot on the floor to get her attention. Never letting her out the front door was also an important fact. When taking the girls out for a walk they always had to go out through the back door, through the yard to the sidewalk. This way Sky never realized that the front door led to the outside world. Everyone in the family did our best to keep Sky safe and comfortable, most of all loved.
Both girls adjusted to home life quite quickly and Amber accepted the roll of being in charge of the little deaf girl. Amber had previously had a litter of puppies and the maternal instinct was still strong for her. She would nudge Sky from a nap when it was time for food and they would snuggle at night.
At Christmas when I came over for dinner Sky was sound asleep under her blanket on the couch. Amber came running up to greet Grandma; she knew there were cookies in my purse for them. When I asked about Sky my son pointed to the blanket, and I gently lifted the blanket, she was sound asleep. I gently stroked her nose and she opened those beautiful blue eyes and jumped right into my arms. She was one of the most loving little dogs I have ever met. She would crawl right up on your lap and snuggle into your neck.
Both girls lived long and happy lives, something that might not have happened without the love and patience of my son and his wife who adapted to caring one of the special needs hounds.
Animals With Blue Eyes
We have learned that animals with blue eyes are usually carrying the deaf gene. With the demand for Dalmatians, thanks to the Disney movie, there were many dogs bred which carried this gene. She was one of the lucky ones who found people who accepted her for who she was.
Some important facts about living with deaf dogs:
Always have them on a leash when outside.
Be patient, it pays off
Learn to “sign” even hearing dogs will take hand signals as commands
Sometimes they will learn by smells
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie—remember if they are sleeping they will not hear you and you will frighten them if you wake them suddenly
Try a loud sharp noise, they may be able to hear the decibel level and will respond
Let these special needs hounds know where you are in the house or when you leave so they don’t become frightened if they find themselves suddenly alone.
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