Way back in December 2015 I wrote a post about two deaf dogs and one hearing dog – Chena, Yeti, and Moby. The post was so popular that it started The Specials, a blog series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as misunderstood breeds like black cats and pit bulls.
A lot has happened with the blog (and me) since then and it is all thanks to these three special dogs. Sadly, both Moby and Chena passed away in 2016. This post is dedicated to these beautiful gentle giants.
Adopting Deaf Great Dane Puppies
The same week Chena passed away Arlo and Winnie were born in Florida. Out of a litter of ten Great Dane puppies, four were deaf. Word spread about the puppies in the deaf dog community and across social media. Cher wasn’t ready to adopt another deaf dog, but kept them in the back of her mind just in case.
But things quickly turned desperate and the owner wanted them gone within 24 hours. Deaf dogs often end up as bait dogs and giving them away for free pretty much sealed their fate. Not knowing what she would find or if she would arrive in time, Cher and a friend drove straight through the night from Chicago to Florida.
When they arrived Cher offered to take all four puppies, but the owner would only give her two. At eight weeks, Dane puppies should weigh about 20 pounds. Winnie only weighed 12 pounds. Not only were they malnourished, their bodies were covered with open sores and infested with multiple internal parasites that were literally sucking the life out of them.
Both dogs refused to eat and by the time they reached Nashville, Winnie started to crash. They found an emergency 24-hour clinic where Winnie underwent a blood transfusion. Thankfully she started to rebound a few hours later. Had they not stopped, she would not have made it home.
Life With Deaf Dogs
One year later, Arlo and Winnie are healthy and happy and still growing! Arlo’s vision is also very limited, but he manages very well. They both passed their AKC puppy classes with flying colors. Cher would eventually like to have them certified as therapy dogs, though she is still working on some reactivity with Arlo.
When Cher first adopted Yeti and Moby, she was told that deaf dogs were untrainable. One trainer even suggested euthanizing them. Both Yeti and Moby and now Arlo and Winnie know hand signals and have responded well to training (see their training in action in the video below). Cher says deaf dogs are much more in tune with their guardians and read body language very well – though a secure, fenced in yard is a must.
Yeti (from the original three) is nine and a half and still doing great! Those who read the original post, might remember that Yeti is a cancer survivor and suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that causes the vertebrae in the spine to fuse together. He moves slowly and sometimes needs some assistance sitting down, but this guy is still such a love! He wasn’t thrilled with the pups arrival at first, but has gradually adjusted over the year.
Co-Parenting Deaf Dogs
Cher shares custody of Yeti with her ex-boyfriend, Matt. They split all the costs including basic care, food, veterinary expenses, etc. Both Cher and Matt are now with other partners, but they have maintained a close friendship out of love for their dogs. Matt was even the one who first found the adoption listing for Arlo and Winnie. They are pretty amazing and a wonderful example of responsible adoption in action.
Yeti, Arlo, and Winnie were all born deaf and have no idea they are different. Want to see these three gentle giants in action? Watch the video below. (video filmed and edited by Mini-Me AKA the little human in the family).
Please do not adopt an animal if you are unable or unwilling to provide a lifetime of loving and compassionate care. If you are ready for adoption, please consider fostering or adopting a pet with special needs because second chances are amazing whether you are on the giving or receiving side. For more information on adopting a deaf dog, please visit Deaf Dogs Rock.
Arlo, Winnie, and Yeti is 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.