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Skyler.

Skyler is a 14-week-old white Boxer. My daughter and I were both looking for Boxer pups and my daughter picked Skyler. I didn't get a pup that day. I had my heart set on a Brindle and was waiting for the Breeder's next litter that wouldn't be born until mid July. I was looking for a Boxer pup to train as a service dog since I have Multiple Sclerosis and frequently need help picking things up off the floor, opening doors, etc.

I knew I wanted a Boxer in particular because I had been a breeder before becoming ill and after 10 years of raising them I was "hooked". They are such wonderful dogs, intelligent, good-natured, and their greatest love above all is children. My previous Boxer was the best dog I ever had. I still get teary-eyed thinking of her. Unless you've had a dog like that touch your life you probably think that's silly but she was like a child to me. Her picture is still above my bedroom dresser and she's been gone now for 7 years. I gave up breeding them shortly afterwards and couldn't bring myself to get another one until recently. It always reminded me of my special girl and it was just too heartbreaking. There would never be another one like her as far as I was concerned and I could never imagine another dog capturing my heart like she did.



Anyway, it didn't take us long to discover that Skyler was almost completely deaf (as unfortunately happens on occasion with white Boxers). My daughter came to realize that with the long hours she worked and having a small child at home she wouldn't be able to provide the extra time and training that this pup would need.



My heart went out to her but I have to admit I had my concerns. I was taking a risk because I needed a dog that could be a service dog someday and when you have a service dog you can't have any other dogs in the home since this distracts them from their "work". I knew that if I took her in I would never be able to give her up if she didn't work out as a service dog so I'd have to get along without one if that happened. But, having physical challenges myself, I had a strong feeling that I would be able to help her. So, I called the breeder and told her to take me off her list for the Brindle pup I was waiting for. She was officially mine forever.



Never having had a deaf dog - nor been around a deaf person for any length of time, I know it takes adjustment. You can't call them when you need to, you can't scold them verbally, and just the thought that she can't hear my encouraging words when she's doing something good really makes me sad for her. But I'm determined to help this pup. I looked up everything I could find about raising and training a deaf dog as well as service dogs, bought books, even bought a laser light pen to get her attention since I have no way of doing this since she can't hear my calls. It's especially difficult for me since I can't always run after her when I'm having a bad day physically. She loves chasing that light and I've been playing "Hide and Seek" with her, she chases the pen and it ends up in my lap where she gets rewarded with hugs and kisses. She has no idea she's learning a lesson! If she's not more than about 10 feet from me and there are no background noises she can hear me if I clap very loud. That's how I've trained her to come to me. We're also learning American Sign Language together. When I first heard of people doing that with deaf dogs I was skeptical about how well it would actually work. It's strange though, it's like all of a sudden we broke the language barrier! She is so attentive and eager to learn now. I found out that I was already using some sign language with her and didn't even know it. Apparently, slapping your leg twice is the sign for "dog" and that's what I do when I only have 1 hand free in the house and can't clap, followed by a "come here" sign. So I guess I've been saying, "Dog, Come here" all along.



We live on a farm and many times she will go out and play with the other dogs or chase our ducks around the yard. No matter how much fun she's having with them, when I give her the "come here" sign, she consistently comes EVERY time! Think that has anything to do with the fact that she usually gets tasty treats? I have raised a lot of puppies in my life and that is quite impressive being that the distraction factors are two of her favorite things to do. That's even a difficult thing for an adult dog to do.



I never thought another dog could capture my heart? Skyler definitely has! I can't imagine my life without her.



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Mindy Riddell is a published author of several articles and ebooks on the web. She is currently working on a website for Skyler which will include information on raising and training deaf dogs, Service dogs for the disabled, and of course information on her favorite breed, Boxers.
Look for a link to it soon from her business website:
notsobigdogs.com- Affordable Internet Marketing with NO SECRETS!
Includes Website Development, S.E. Optimization & a Free Webmaster Toolbox!
http://www.notsobigdogs.com

 

 


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