Ci-Gwyn Gwenhwyfar Merch Cyfarth CGC

Finding information on deaf dogs is getting easier, but it used to be quite difficult (there wasn't much out there when I adopted Gwydion). In August of 1997, the book Living With a Deaf Dog by Susan Cope Becker was printed. I would highly recommend it. There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about deaf dogs out there, most of it very negative. For a very good living resource, check out the Deaf Dog List. It is made up of over 1300 owners and friends of deaf dogs. I joined in May of '99, and this is where Gwen came from.

With her Teddy Bear!
Gwen with bear

We had talked on and off for over a year about getting a second dog, but just weren't sure that we had the room. One day I decided to ask the list group what they thought (since there are many multi-deaf dog homes on it). I told them how big our house and yard were, and what I had in mind as a second dog. Several people said that they had more than one dog and about the same amount of room as us, so it should work. And then Jackie (from Black Dog Ranch) said she might have my dog. And she did! She is exactly what I had in mind. The really spooky part was her name. My daughter had said that she wanted to name our next dog. We knew that we wanted a girl, so I told her that she could pick, but that I had veto power and it had to "go with" Gwydion (so it couldn't be Spot). She thought about it for a long time, and came up with Guenivere. I wasn't sure that I really liked it, but decided that it would be OK if we went with the Welsh spelling (since Gwydion is a Welsh name). Well, Gwennie's name in rescue was Angel, and the translation of Gwenhwyfar is "Fair, white, or shining, spirit or fairy". Isn't that a perfect description of an angel? So Gwennie made the flight from Montana to Michigan on August 3, 1999 (the day after her 6 month birthday!).

Now What?

Gwen likes to sleep with her feet in the air, not sure why ...
Gwen sleeping upside down

Gwen has taken several classes. She took a household manners class (basic training), a clicker class (using a flashlight for a clicker), and a CGC class (which she passed - Whoo Hoo!). She has learned about 25 words so far (a few of which she learned just from watching Gwydion). Because of her deafness, she is not allowed to compete in any AKC (American Kennel Club) events. ASCA only bars her from tracking and obedience. Many other clubs do allow deaf dogs to compete, such as AMBOR (American Mixed Breed Obedience Registration) and UKC (United Kennel Club) in the US, and also clubs in Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. I know a deaf Dalmatian in Australia who has earned his CD, a deaf Aussie/Great Dane cross who does Search-and-Rescue, a deaf Jack Russell who loves to win in agility, deaf Border Collies who do herding, and a Boxer who does Flyball. Gwen adores her tennis balls (and will chase them all day long), so we have started learning Flyball (so far, so good, but we haven't entered anything yet). She also has way more instinct than she needs, so we may try herding (although I'd never let her in with cattle). We got to do this! See the pictures!

Gwen LOVES to herd this ball!
Gwen herding her big red ball

Many people will tell you that it takes a lot of patience to keep a deaf dog. While I won't disagree that this is a good thing, I don't consider myself a particularly patient person (if I'm not getting results, I try something else)! I think that you first of all need to be willing to train a dog. While a hearing dog can just pick stuff up, you must make an active effort to communicate with a deaf dog. I believe that most of the behavior problems associated with deaf dogs are a result of boredom and frustration. That said, you also need to be fairly creative. Just because the particular training method worked with your last 10 dogs doesn't mean that it will work with this one. Be flexible, read all the dog training books that you can find and try anything that sounds reasonable. I really think that just about any home approved by rescue could handle a deaf dog (whether they would want one or not is another question).

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