Deaf Dalmation Learns Sign Language

By Meera Dolasia on December 3, 2008

Zoe is a beautiful 18-month old Dalmatian with a big problem. She is stone deaf. Frustrated about not being able to bond with Zoe, her owner returned her to the animal shelter, not realizing that she had a disability.

When Zoe arrived at the animal shelter in Devon , she was very timid and lacked confidence. The staff there soon realized that Zoe was deaf. That's when they decided to teach her how to communicate in a different manner.

In order to get her to pick up the sign language gestures, they encouraged Zoe to focus on their face and expressions, by bribing her with treats. Once Zoe was able to focus, she quickly picked up the sign language gestures. Today she understands seven commands, which include, sit, stay, dance, lie down, paw, kiss and good girl.

Now that Zoe has learned the basics, the shelter is hoping to find her a permanent home, with an owner who can continue to teach her more.

While Zoe is lucky to been diagnosed and helped, deafness is quite common in certain dog breeds, like Dalmatians, Collies and certain Terriers. Most of them learn to 'hear' through their nose, eyes and 'vibration'. If taught, they also learn to take commands through hand signals or expressions, similar to what Zoe has been able to do.


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  • frozenlover5/12/2014
    my mom isdeaf i know all sign lanugage
    • krish10
      • starr 3/28/2014
        I wish my dog could do that
        • daisa
          omg that is so cool
          • Andy2/27/2014
            It was a great article. I particularly liked how the trainers not only taught her the basics but seven commands! I'm glad that Zoe overcame her deafness.
            • Bilal M.2/27/2014
              Its such a wonder that a smart,deaf Dalmatian can interpret the sign language of humans!
              • amran suliman2/27/2014
                I wonder how the staff knew she was deaf. Also it is really cool how they took their time to teach the zoe the impossible.
                • Laura Wu2/27/2014
                  Does anybody else think that it was kind of mean on the owner to return her just because he was frustrated?
                  • Alex Anderson2/27/2014
                    I like how they had to use the treats. Did they do the gestures with the treats in the hands?
                    • Angela N.2/27/2014
                      I think this is very amazing how they taught Zoe sign language. This also shows how generous some people can be by teaching a dog sign language.


                      Devon, UK

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