Deaf Danes are great pets

Article about deaf Great Danes both from the rescue I volunteer with....

Deaf Danes are great pets
By Peggy Johnson
Dear Readers: The following is from the Great Dane Rescue angels concerning deaf Great Danes.

With his rugged good looks and piercing blue eyes, Petey is the kind of guy you want to snuggle with and whisper sweet nothings into his ear! As with Great Danes everywhere, Petey is more than ready to snuggle, but you can forget the sweet nothings - Petey is deaf.

“I don’t consider him handicapped,” says Kathy Shea. “He’s a normal dog who doesn’t hear.”

Ms. Shea is the Pennsylvania and Delaware Co-Coordinator for Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League (MAGDRL). The group focuses on placing Great Danes in loving homes. The group also focuses on education.

More than a 100 miles away, Aspen, who also happens to be dear, knows a lot about education. According to her owner, Judy Cohen, a MAGDRL board member, the 7-year-old Dane happens to be an ambassador, not only for deaf Danes but for the whole breed.

“For some people, it’s an eye-opener to learn that dogs can be deaf,” says Ms. Cohen.

She took her dog to the Pet Expo last year where Aspen wore her “deaf dog” collar.

“People asked me if she was my “hearing-ear” dog,” Ms. Cohen said. “They thought I was the deaf one.”

Deaf Danes are totally or almost totally white, which creates a very striking look.

Petey and Aspen are very normal dogs, according to their owners. They just can’t hear. If there is any major difference between the deaf dogs and the hearing ones, both women say, it is a positive one.

“I’ve had five deaf Danes, including foster ones,” says Ms. Shea. “None of the deaf ones have had any problems with other animals or people. They seem to get along with everyone.”

That isn’t to say there can’t be deaf dogs with issues, but neither of these ladies have met them.

“I sign and talk to all the dogs,” Ms. Shea says. “The hearing dogs read sign language and the deaf dogs read body language. Training can take a bit of patience, but most of that seems to be with the trainer, learning to work with a deaf dog.”

“Aspen is very smart and very aware of things around her. She has phenomenal problem-solving skills,” says Ms. Cohen. “It is amazing watching her figure out how to do things.”

She agrees that deaf Great Danes are easy to train.

“I don’t necessarily say that deaf Danes are smarter, but to me, they are easier to train,” Ms. Cohen says. “Once you teach them to focus they don’t seem to have the distractions other dogs have so they seem to pick up things faster.”

There are a number of great resources for people who have deaf Danes. Both women recommend the Web site: [url=][/url]

Unfortunately, not everyone who ends up with a deaf Dane is willing to put in the time to train their dog. If these dogs are lucky, they go to rescues, where they will eventually find a loving home.

A quick look at MAGDRIL Web site ( recently showed that 10 percent of the dogs up for adoption are deaf. Also, the genetics that affect color and deafness also can affect vision.

In addition to Petey, Ms. Shea has a hearing dog, and a deaf foster, Magoo. The foster dog has no peripheral vision and can’t see great distances. He is doing very well, but so far no one is interested in adopting him.

If anyone is interested in adopting one of our deaf Danes, please call 410-945-5454. or visit the Web site.

Friends, doesn’t that just tear at your heart strings?

Deaf dogs do make good pets if the owner is motivated enough to work with the dog. Over the years I have had a couple of deaf dogs in my dog obedience class and agree heartily that it is the owner that needs the training.

Don’t give up! If you persevere, you will end up with a very special dog that will not only amaze you, but your friends, too.

Questions about dogs may be sent to Peggy Johnson, “Dog’s World,” c/o The Capital, P.O. Box 911, Annapolis, MD 21404 or emailed to Readers with questions can also submit photos of their pets to run with the online column.

Published 04/06/2005 Copyright � 2005 The Capital

Posted by rosevine69 on 04/11 at 04:03 AM in Pet People

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