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The Specials: Adopting Deaf Dogs

Today is the first post in a series called The Specials, which will focus on successful special needs pet adoption.  Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pit Bulls and black cats. If not for the kindness, courage, and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals would have been euthanized in shelters or perished alone and hungry on the streets.

I hope these stories will inspire some of you to consider welcoming a special needs pet into your home and heart when and if, the time is right. These special animals have much to share and when given a chance, their gratitude and love is immense.

rescuing and adopting a deaf dog or two

I first met my friend Cher in 2003. I was working at Red Door Animal Shelter and she was a volunteer. Red Door focuses primarily on cats and rabbits and although she loves ALL animals, Cher is a true dog person. She eventually moved on to work with various local and national dog rescue groups.

deaf dog adoption and rescue is amazing

Adopting a Deaf Dog (or Two)

When I met Cher, she had a chocolate lab named Chewie. Eleven years later, she has two deaf Great Danes, Yeti and Moby, and a senior pit mix named Chena.

Yeti is an eight-year-old, 150-pound, deaf, male Great Dane. He is also a cancer survivor and suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that causes the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together. He can no longer climb stairs and sometimes needs assistance getting on and off the couch.

Deaf dog adoption, rescue and training

Cher rescued Yeti at eight weeks from a backyard breeder who wanted him gone or dead because one eye was smaller than the other. Had she not rescued him that night, there’s every indication that Yeti would have soon become a bait dog.  She did not know Yeti was deaf until she enrolled him in puppy class a few months later. She was told that deaf dogs couldn’t be trained and a few people even suggested euthanizing him. Of course, euthanasia wasn’t an option. Instead, she devoted hours to researching and studying deaf dogs and soon became an expert and advocate for their care.

Chena is a nine-year-old, 100-pound, male, Pit-Dane mix. Cher adopted Chena from Orphans of the Storm in 2007. Although he doesn’t have special needs like his brothers, because he is a pit-mix, he would face immediate euthanasia in many shelters.

Moby is a seven-year-old, 160-pound, deaf, male Great Dane. Cher rescued him from a horse breeding farm when he was ten weeks old. Unlike Yeti, Cher knew Moby was deaf from the start. In addition to being deaf, Moby suffers from Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, which means he lacks the proper Enzymes to digest certain foods. He will be on a special diet and multiple medications for life. Moby also lives with Myositis (head atrophy). Right now, thankfully, his condition is stable, but it may worsen over time. Moby was the third of the dogs to arrive and Cher believes, made them a true pack.

Cher shares custody of the dogs with her ex-boyfriend, Matt. They split all costs (of which there are many) including basic care, food, veterinary expenses, dog walking, etc. The dogs live with Cher, but Matt visits regularly and often comes over to make their meals and take them for walks. Both Cher and Matt are now with other partners, but they have maintained a friendship out of love for their dogs.

One of the top reasons animals are abandoned and surrendered to shelters is because of a change in a relationship. Like children, pets are often used as weapons of revenge in crumbling marriages and partnerships. It’s very common for one person to abandon a dog or cat at a shelter to hurt his or her ex-partner. New relationships also result in animals being dumped at shelters – a new girlfriend doesn’t like dogs or a new boyfriend is allergic to cats.

Having worked in shelters, I have witnessed these scenarios hundreds of times and know first hand the devastation, loss and pain experienced by the dogs and cats left behind. Cher and Matt are shining examples of responsible pet care and have my utmost respect for their compassion and dedication on behalf of the extraordinary dogs in their care.

You can learn about adopting and living with deaf dogs at Deaf Dogs Rock.

Rescuing and adopting a deaf dog or two

Yeti, Chena, and Moby are part of The Specials, an award-winning blog series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pits and black cats. If not for the courage and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals might have been euthanized in shelters or died alone and hungry on the streets. You can read more special needs adoption posts here


  1. Mitch and Molly
    December 14, 2015 / 10:55 am

    What beautiful pups! Bless you, Cher and Matt♥

  2. The Menagerie Mom
    December 14, 2015 / 1:12 pm

    Oh, what a beautiful post! I also have a serious fondness for special needs animals and have a couple of my own at home. Thank you for bringing such lovely awareness to special needs animals! I look forward to reading each and every post in this series you've created.

  3. Madi and Mom
    December 14, 2015 / 2:27 pm

    Pip this is a beautiful story of love and devotion of a human and the love and devotion she is given by her wonderful pets. Have you read the book Saving Grace? Grace was a Great Dane too. I expect she had the same problem as Moby has with Digestion. Her owners (who wrote the book) are the same guys who started 3 Dog Bakery. They started it to try to find something Grace could easily eat and digest.At the time the wrote it they had 3 Dogs. Very very inspiring book…two great guys and their Great Dane.Hugs Madi and Cecilia

  4. Talent Hounds
    December 14, 2015 / 3:00 pm

    Wow such dedication and love. Love that the couple still stay friends and look after the dogs. Great series. Thanks for sharing

  5. Brian
    December 14, 2015 / 4:06 pm

    They are such sweeties. We had 2 deaf dogs here, but that was because of age.

  6. Marg
    December 14, 2015 / 4:07 pm

    That is one great post. Love hearing about the deaf dogs and what great people to take them on. I have a deaf cat and a cat isn't too bad since I can pick him up and put him where he needs to go but he gets along fine. He knows where he eats and where the good places to sleep. He does have to stay inside because of danger. That was great fun to read.

  7. Frankie Furter and Ernie
    December 14, 2015 / 4:50 pm

    AWWWWWW we remember and LOVE Red Door… it is where Angel PIP came from… This is a grand post… so full of LOVE and Devotion…

  8. Reilly-Denny Cowspotdogs
    December 14, 2015 / 5:05 pm

    what a wonderful person she is for taking on such beautiful pups – the worlds need many more like her

  9. Hailey and Zaphod and their Lady
    December 14, 2015 / 5:20 pm

    Love these pups. So glad they found homes.

  10. Sketching with Dogs
    December 14, 2015 / 5:21 pm

    What a totally lovely thing to do and even when they split up, to care for the dogs and split the costs – a mark of true animal lovers.They are beautiful dogs and well worth saving.You could say Bridge was a special needs dog, she came from a horrendous place with many illnesses and was mad as a hatter but I loved her beyond words.Lynne x

  11. Sketching with Dogs
    December 14, 2015 / 5:22 pm

    ps, Hope you do try the stamp carving, I'm sure you'll love it!

  12. tubby3pug
    December 14, 2015 / 5:33 pm

    I think thats lovely we thought maybe our white cat was deaf when we first got him but no. Definitely try stamp carvingretro rover

  13. Casey
    December 14, 2015 / 8:03 pm

    What a grreat story! Cher sounds like a very special lady. We've had lots of deaf boxers adopted through LBR, and they're just as smart as any other dog! They are trained based on hand signals.

  14. Casey
    December 14, 2015 / 8:03 pm

    What a grreat story! Cher sounds like a very special lady. We've had lots of deaf boxers adopted through LBR, and they're just as smart as any other dog! They are trained based on hand signals.

  15. sprinkles
    December 14, 2015 / 8:22 pm

    I've always wondered how difficult it would be to have a deaf pet and whether or not I'd be up to the task. This truly is an inspiring story and I'm looking forward to reading more in the future.That's so lovely Chena and her ex can be civil still and that they share the cost of the dogs' care. While I'm still friends with one ex, I would not want him coming over regularly to spend time with my dogs. That speaks volumes about them both.

  16. Bouncing Bertie
    December 14, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    Wonderful indeed that Cher and Matt continued to work together to care for the dogs despite going separate ways.

  17. stellaroselong
    December 14, 2015 / 9:02 pm

    What a wonderful story, and what truly two kind people. Those dogs are just beautiful. stella rose and momma

  18. Bocci
    December 14, 2015 / 9:08 pm

    Fantastic post and super idea for a series, Kristin! Cher, Matt, you and so many others are just extraordinary humans:-)

  19. Idaho PugRanch
    December 14, 2015 / 10:58 pm

    A beautiful story about a wonderful lady and her very special dogs. It is great that Cher & Matt continue to love the dogs although they are no longer together. A great example for not only dog owners but children of divorced families as wellhugsMr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  20. Murphy
    December 15, 2015 / 1:01 am

    We heard about a story of an albino Great Dane who was deaf but can't recall any other details. We hope they all find wonderful furever homes!Your Pals,Murphy & Stanley

  21. M. K. Clinton
    December 15, 2015 / 1:38 am

    This is a wonderful story. Kudos for the couple to maintain a healthy relationship for the dogs. They are shining examples of how to do the right thing. ♥

  22. ♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥
    December 15, 2015 / 1:48 am

    Such a wonderful post and what wonderful peeps. We are so happy that there ARE such peeps in our world.Woos – Ciara and Lightning

  23. Foley Monster, Pocket and River Song
    December 15, 2015 / 1:50 am

    Bless all these dogs and Cher

  24. Two French Bulldogs
    December 15, 2015 / 2:06 am

    Beautiful! mom heard those Great Danes think they are lap dogsLily & Edward

  25. Foley Monster, Pocket and River Song
    December 15, 2015 / 2:11 am

    Bless all these dogs and Cher

  26. Cathy Keisha
    December 15, 2015 / 3:08 am

    I’m glad they worked out a deal for the dogs. when someone we know gets and new boy/girl friend, the first thing we ax is do that like cats/dogs.

  27. Jackie Bouchard
    December 15, 2015 / 3:20 am

    What sweet pups, and sweet people. That's so nice that they can still amicably share custody of the dogs after breaking up. Hooray for them putting the dogs' needs first!

  28. Siku Marie, White Dog
    December 15, 2015 / 5:18 am

    Thanks for sharing these stories. People need to know that seniors and special needs dogs come with so much love and appreciation…all they need is someone willing to open their heart and share it.

  29. Siku Marie, White Dog
    December 15, 2015 / 5:18 am

    Thanks for sharing these stories. People need to know that seniors and special needs dogs come with so much love and appreciation…all they need is someone willing to open their heart and share it.

  30. Mark Muller
    December 15, 2015 / 2:37 pm

    I'm so glad that people like Cher and Matt are there for this pups. Such stories make our cold world a little warmer… thanks for a really heartwarming post.

  31. Tweedles -- that's me
    December 16, 2015 / 2:19 am

    A very beautiful post,, and beautiful puppy dogs!lovetweedles

  32. Sammy Sam
    December 16, 2015 / 2:25 am

    🙂 Thank you. I really enjoyed reading this post. My mom and dad had a mixed breed terrier named Wupper. He was deaf too. My dad and mom loved him to bits and still miss him, 10 years after.

  33. Jeanne Pursell
    December 16, 2015 / 11:52 am

    Thank you for sharing a good news story with us! How wonderful that the two of them have maintained their friendship out of love for the dogs…that is awesome!

  34. Chasing Dog Tales
    December 16, 2015 / 8:09 pm

    What an amazing story of both the dogs and Matt and Cher. How wonderful that they both care so much for their dogs that they can put their differences aside and continue caring for their beautiful pack. Thanks for sharing their story with us.

  35. Yamini MacLean
    December 16, 2015 / 9:27 pm

    Hari OMOoooooh I am soooo looking forward to this series Kristen!!! Beautiful, heart-warming and a great prompt!!! Huggies, YAM xx

  36. JoAnn Stancer
    December 16, 2015 / 9:27 pm

    Very nice post with some really beautiful dogs.

  37. pet collage
    December 22, 2015 / 4:10 pm

    lovely photographs and story.

  38. Marty the Manx
    January 5, 2016 / 2:25 am

    What an wonderful couple to keep their animals welfare at the forefront and continue to care for them together. So glad you know such incredible people! Such beautiful dogs!

  39. Kitty Cat Chronicles
    January 14, 2016 / 4:34 pm

    Love these stories! I also love how Cher and her ex share custody of the dogs. That is just awesome. Thanks for sharing their stories with us!

  40. Golden Daily Scoop
    January 15, 2016 / 1:31 am

    What beautiful pups, so happy they found home! I think it's wonderful that they share custody! Thanks for sharing!

  41. Cathy Armato
    April 18, 2016 / 8:53 pm

    Another fabulous post in your series, Kristin! These dogs are so beautiful, I'm glad they've all found a wonderful home together. Cher and Matt are definitely two very special people. It's not easy to put yourself aside for your pets but these two have done it beautifully.Love & Biscuits,Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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