Wednesday, May 12, 2010
A New Challenge
When you work with dogs, a new challenge is always waiting right around the corner. My latest endeavor is a dog named Otis.
Otis was surrendered to the shelter a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed him immediately. He is beautiful! All white with blue eyes. My first thought was that he wouldn't be around long, but then I noticed he eyes looked a little...off.
Turns out not only is Otis blind, but he is deaf as well.
Oh boy. I've done deaf, I've done blind, but I had never done both on the same dog before.
Luckily for me a trainer friend of mine recently raised a blind and deaf puppy. She was able to give me some wonderful advice.
Normally for a deaf dog I would use hand signals to teach commands, for a blind one words. For Otis, he would have to learn by touch.
Touch his rear and lure him into a sit. (He still learned the same, with a cookie on his nose, he could follow the scent.) For down, you touch his shoulders and lure him down.
But, manners would not be the most important thing for Otis to master.
Otis first needed to learn how to walk on a leash. You see, every time you went to put the slip lead over his head, he would bite and chew it. He would pull and tug, and bite higher and higher until he was almost at your hand. Bitter Apple wasn't doing anything to deter him either.
The simplest, quickest solution was to put him on a harness. What a difference! I think the harness helps him to feel more secure.
His next biggest problem was his mouthing. I can't blame him, he only has so many senses left!
Just removing all attention from him when ever he did it worked for that.
It is amazing how he can smell you when you arrive. He knows you are there, and can find you. He learns his boundaries quickly and is a very smart boy.
My next concern was who would adopt him? I knew there were plenty of people who's hearts would go out to him, who would feel sorry for him, but these were not the right people for Otis. Otis needs to be treated just like a regular dog. This is not a pity case, this is a life style changing project. Whomever adopts this dog will need certain resources. Time, patience and understanding.
Lucky for Otis and his new adopter (who ever they turn out to be) things are looking up.
My friend owns and operates a local dog training/day care/boarding facility and we reached an agreement to where Otis and his adopters will receive free behavior counseling and may even get free day care or training!
So, for now, Otis sits and waits for the right person to come for him.