Lifestyle

Learning signs a snap for deaf dog

Deafness has not stopped Ruby Rose from enjoying life.
Deafness has not stopped Ruby Rose from enjoying life. Blainey Woodham

TEACHING a dog sign language is just as much of a learning experience for the teacher as it is for the pet.

Gavin Smith said he and his partner Sally had to learn how dogs communicated with each other in order to communicate with their kelpie, Ruby Rose.

Ruby Rose was deaf since birth and blind in one eye.

"Sign language and using facial expressions is the only way we can communicate," Mr Smith said.

"It's probably the way that most dogs communicate with each other so you have to think like a dog to communicate with her.

"We're lucky that she is a very smart dog and picks up things quickly."

Mr Smith said while Ruby Rose required a bit of extra attention, she wasn't much more difficult than dogs without a disability.

"It's surprising that it's not that much more of an effort than a normal dog," Mr Smith said.

"We do a lot of running about - 30-40km a week with her.

"She is not for a lazy dog owner. When she barks you actually have to get up and go to her to get her attention."

The family also has a 13-year-old border collie that helps guide Ruby Rose.

Gavin and Sally Smith fell in love with Ruby Rose when they saw her on the RSPCA Adopt a Pet website.

"We have been to the vet hospital at the University of Queensland and they said she was missing two teeth," Mr Smith said.

"She has lost an eye and that might have been from abuse when she was just a puppy.

"Because she was deaf she could have been beaten because she was unresponsive as a puppy."

Topics:  animals, dog, sign language, tweed, university of queensland



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