As a long time ACES volunteer, I recently found myself helping out in a way I never thought I would: fostering a deaf dog. I wasn’t really sure I was up for that… How would we communicate?  How would I train him?  Wouldn’t it be challenging?  Was I up for it?  Aren’t deaf dogs… hard?

But I said yes and am so glad I said yes to ACES Dudley, an eight-year old deaf boy.  He knew some hand signals, and it was up to me to learn how to give them in his “language”.  One time I was trying to give him his “out” signal and he just stared at me as if to ask, “what in the world are you trying to say?” He kept watching my hands until he figured it out – smart boy! And, often I still find myself talking to him – or telling him to look at me so I can give him a hand signal (that doesn’t work very well when he’s not looking at me!).   He’s learned some new things here and my own dogs have learned his signals. Even better, Dudley's a Cardinals fan, as you can see. 

Fostering Dudley has been fun and not really that different from any hearing foster.   Last weekend, I took Dudley to the dog park.  Many people commented on his being deaf, but they could only tell by his “Deaf Dogs Rock” bandana.  Regardless, Dudley did great at the dog park and had a blast.  He ran and played with several dogs, large and small, and visited with many people.  He talked the whole way home about how much fun it was.  On the way home, we stopped at Petsmart to shop for costumes, and Dudley was patient – up to a point - then he told all of Petsmart what he thought of his new Halloween spider costume.  It’s not so different from any hearing dog. 

Fostering is so rewarding, and I love all my fosters and I love that I learn new things with each new dog.  I was so nervous to try and take care of a deaf dog, but it turned out  just fine.  I can honestly give a big thumbs up (deaf sign for "good dog") to fostering a lovable deaf boy.  Read more about Dudley.

Read more about deaf setters.