Rufus: A Deaf Dog’s Journey from Shelter to Forever Home

By isak, May 28, 2012

The Beginning

Tomorrow, after the DeWitt Animal Hospital in DeWitt, NY opens, a member of Angels of Fur will be there to pick up Rufus. An American Bulldog/Pit Bull Terrier mix, Rufus was brought into the shelter by animal control after he was found wandering the streets of Syracuse. He had fleas and a case of mange. Both are being treated and he is expected to be just fine.

However what may not be treatable is his lack of hearing. You see, Rufus is deaf, a condition not necessarily uncommon to his breed but certainly no reason to not have a home of his own.

How do I know? I own a deaf dog, or rather, he owns me. And he is truly one of the best dogs I have ever had. Very kind and wonderfully happy. Similarly, the people at DeWitt Animal Hospital will quickly tell you that Rufus is a very “sweet and loving guy.”

People ask me how I communicate with my deaf dog. Well, if you have a dog, you probably already use your hands when you talk to them. When you say “sit,” do you point down with your finger? Do you hold up your hands when you are telling your dog to stay? Do you motion towards yourself when you say “come here?” Then you are communicating via your own kind of sign language already. And it’s not much different with a deaf dog.

Rufus’ Next Step

Tomorrow, Rufus will be placed with a trainer who will begin to teach Rufus Sign Language. From there, we will progress to finding Rufus his forever home. He does not necessarily have to be an only dog. My deaf dog is one of several dogs I care for. But it is also okay if he is the only dog. In the coming days, we will feature updates on Rufus so you can follow his journey from a shelter to a forever home (because I am know we will find his new home). We will also include more information about deafness in dogs. I hope you will follow along and share his story with your friends and family. Somewhere out there, his new home is looking and waiting for him.

If you are interested in adopting Rufus or you have more questions, please leave a comment below and we will get back to you.

Twelve Quick Facts About Deaf Dogs:

  • Deaf dogs don’t know they are deaf.
  • Deaf dogs don’t care that they are deaf.
  • Deaf dogs are not suffering by being deaf.
  • Deaf dogs are dogs first.
  • Deaf dogs are representatives of their breed or combination of breeds second.
  • Deaf dogs are individual dogs with their own quirks and personalities third.
  • Deaf dogs are not more likely to become aggressive than any other dog in the same circumstances.
  • Deaf dogs may startle when awakened suddenly but can easily be conditioned to awake to a calm but alert state.
  • Deaf dogs are no less healthy than most hearing dogs.
  • Deaf dogs can be easier to train than hearing dogs.
  • Deaf dogs are very attentive to visual signals, including facial expression, body language and hand signals.
  • Deaf dogs get along just fine with other dogs and people, as long as they are socialized from puppyhood on – just like hearing dogs.
  • Reprinted from Dog Wave.

And A Little Deaf Humor

Here are some humorous (and mostly true) observations from owners of deaf dogs:

  • Your dog ignores you by turning his head.
  • Your dog doesn’t care if her favorite toy has a squeaky or not.
  • Your dog likes to lie under your feet or across the doorway, so that you can’t leave the room without him knowing.
  • Instead of listening for the car, your dog watches for headlights on the wall and can tell your car from your spouse’s.
  • You flash the porch lights on/off for your dog, rather than for your teen-ager.
  • Stomping on the floor doesn’t mean you are angry.
  • You walk though the house waving a dog bowl when it’s time to eat.
  • You are the only one at the dog park “calling” your dog back by waving your arms over your head. And when she doesn’t come, you “wave louder.”
  • You can read more humorous observations on the deaf dogs website.


  1. Michael Shadrin says:

    Iam a Air Force Vet, I lost my best friend, of 18 years my Beagle Dixon from a Heart defect he was born with . I did not know about and a mass on ,his lung. That I did not know about. The vet, he saw gave me the wrong Information. My Border Collie Chow Megan. Passed away on me, 19 months before Dixon my Beagle and my Boy. I have a Jack Russel name Chase.Came two months before Megan,died. He thought ,he was Dixons Bodyguard. And Dixon was near forty pounds. Other people thought, that was so funny.And loving and heart felt.All my Babies were Rescues .One My Beagle Dixon a collar abedin in his neck two months old. It broke my heart. The vet he went to see. Said when he took his picture, That my Dixon , was a ham ,( when he looked at the camera.)( That i was in Trouble ) ,( but it was. The Best Happy Trouble.)( Of 18 Years).( He should of lived only six years) with the (Heart Defect).( But 18 years) ,( the vet at U T University and the doctors in Knoxville TN ).( Said they had never seen anything,) (like this.) (It was love and the bond) , we had(that kept us going. )I(love Megan and I love Chase.)( But Dixon was me heart and soul). In my songs i have wrote and in my life I have lived. But now Chase and me need one more in the family and chase needs a friend. He is 10 years and three months, Things he is a german shepherd some times

    • isak says:

      What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it. And what wonderful “friends” you have had on your journey. I’m sure you and Chase can find someone to join your family. There are so many out there looking for their forever home. Best of luck to you, Chase… and eventually, your newest addition.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *