The staff at the Central Nebraska Humane Society say it can be hard for older or disabled dogs to get adopted, but one that captured the heart of a volunteer is headed to her forever home with a very special family who can relate.
Tracie Pfeifle says Rosie the pit bull faces challenges that other shelter dogs don’t.
“You can get most dogs’ attention by saying their name or making a sound, but she can’t respond to that because she is deaf,” explains Pfeifle.
When Pfeifle began volunteering at CNHS in January, she made Rosie her special project, and began teaching her sign language.
“We started using treats and putting the treat up to your face and saying ‘good girl’ with your thumb up and then she figured out that we were communicating with her,” says Pfeifle.
Good girl, sit, down, stay, outside, and walk – basic commands, but Pfeifle says it brought the three year old out of her shell.
“It was just amazing to watch her just blossom into a dog, I don’t think she knew how to be a dog,” she says.
Then it was a waiting game for Rosie – waiting for someone willing to learn her new language to come along, until now.
Cindy Koch of Doniphan says she’s always wanted a deaf dog.
“Because I’m deaf and we want to relate to her, and understand how she feels – want to communicate with her through signing, teach her signing,” says Koch.
The Koch family already knows sign language, so learning Rosie’s signs is easy, and they plan to teach her more.
“I’m going to teach her my sign language, how deaf people communicate, she’s a smart dog, she can pick up fast,” says Koch.
It’s a bittersweet day for Pfeifle and the shelter, but they say it’s exactly what they wanted for this special dog.
“It’s what I hoped would eventually happen, she couldn’t have gone to a nicer family,” says Pfeifle. “I believe deaf dogs can sense how you’re feeling, and it’s more intensified now because Cindy and Rosie are both deaf, so they definitely have a very special bond.”
Volunteers at CNHS are still working with another deaf pit bull named Noah. They say teaching him sign language has brought out his good side, just like it did Rosie.