Karemie's story - Adopting deaf dogs with no regrets
By Karemie Williams, edited by Hayleigh Sinclair
In October 2015, a friend of mine found a dog on her family’s property looking very skinny with a broken rope around his neck. Under the assumption he had been abandoned at the nearby rubbish dump at the age of 7 months, he had chewed through the rope he had been tied up with somewhere and left to die.
My friend then contacted me about this discarded dog, determined to help find him a good home. She sent me a photo and I decided to trial him. Earlier that same week, I'd already chosen two female puppies from the RSPCA. We lived on a property so we certainly had the space for more than 2 dogs.
I adopted him and called him Cody.
For a while I wondered if I had done the right thing. He was energetic, he didn’t know his own strength and he was strong willed. I didn’t think I could handle him and I worried he was too strong for the other puppies. I thought he wasn’t responding to my calls because he didn’t recognise his new name and that he was too excited with his new surroundings.
I never considered the possibility of him being born deaf, until we had a night of thunder, during which he didn’t move.
I did some research online about deaf dogs to work out how I was going to look after him and to find other ways to connect with him. A trip to the vet taught me that it is common in white dogs.
Nothing about Cody was hard enough to deter me from getting a second deaf dog, and six months later, I got Stella - a bigger one. An 18-month-old Great Dane cross, who had been in the RSPCA for over three months.
Having hearing dogs with deaf dogs definitely made all of our lives easier. If you called the hearing dogs, the deaf dogs usually followed. Cody almost always had an eye on our dog Kara, and responded whenever she did, quite often not knowing what was he was being called to action for.
Our other dog, Lucy came in handy when waking the deaf dogs up in the morning. I would ask Lucy to wake Stella or Cody and she’d make a particular bark sound of just the right pitch that woke both deaf dogs - a bark I only ever heard for that purpose. Sometimes I would have to wander the property to find them. Usually in the warmest spot on the property in winter or the coolest in Summer - they'd just be sound asleep.
Having a secure acre on the farm for them to run around in also made having deaf dogs easier. It was far from the road so I didn’t have to worry about them not hearing cars. When we walked however, I noticed that they felt cars and motorbikes when they drove past.
Both deaf dogs knew that open arms meant to come. They knew what I needed from them by a look in my face that was just between them and myself. I could rally Cody to play with one look. Everything else was practically done as a pack walking, eating, coming inside, getting excited by visitors, or lying outside under the tree to relax.
Deaf or not, it all translated. I always thought it was amazing that Cody would be at the gate when I arrived home before all the other dogs.
I never had a strict routine but somehow he knew when I was coming down the long driveway to the farm.
I try my best to promote the adoption of deaf dogs. Deafness should not be seen as a disadvantage. In fact, it can help with other dogs reacting to noise. Cody and Stella kept the other two calm during storms, and I noticed a difference in the hearing dogs after the deaf ones were gone. I lost them both to cancer, Stella was 9 and Cody was 11. Deaf dogs can live a very full life, even when they were sick they were tough and used all their senses to keep in the world of their pack.
I love all my fur-kids. The deaf fur-kids definitely had a certain quality about them that I can’t really describe and it seemed to be similar in both. Stella ran like she was a Greyhound - all legs, and once the sprint was over she’d come to a clumsy halt. She didn’t really play. I think she thought she was too regal for that. Cody was the biggest sook of all. He had the funniest bark and I always thought if he could hear himself he would be a little embarrassed.