Dylan outside laying down on grass

Deaf puppy’s world unlocked by Blue Cross

A puppy locked out of the world because his owners didn’t know he was completely deaf has been given a fresh start by Blue Cross.

Dylan was brought to our Tiverton rehoming centre in Devon in May, aged seven months, because his family were struggling to cope with his behaviour and unable to train him.

It was immediately apparent to our team that the reason for that was that he had severe problems hearing, and we soon established that he was completely deaf.

Hannah Miell, Animal Behaviour Coordinator, said: “It had been implied previously by a vet that there may have been a little bit of a hearing issue, but that if there was, it was quite mild.

Dylan gives paw to Animal Behaviour Coordinator Hannah Miell
Dylan learns how to give his paw to Animal Behaviour Coordinator, Hannah Miell

“But when Dylan came to us we tested his hearing by getting him to focus on me and then my colleague behind him clapped really loudly and there was not a smidge of reaction from him. This indicated his hearing problem was much worse than suspected and our vet confirmed then that he was completely deaf.

“He can feel vibrations through the ground, so if you drag a chair along the floor he can feel that, but sound-wise, he could not hear anything.”

The team soon set about using sign language to begin his training and within a matter of days, Dylan was already making huge progress, largely thanks to the dedication of Animal Welfare Assistant Jasmine Coles.

Hannah said: “He didn’t know any cues when he came to us. Jasmine put a lot of effort into his training and he learnt to sit and lay down in just one weekend. He’s food motivated which really helps and makes it a lot quicker.

Dylan outside standing on grass

“Once he started getting feedback as to what we wanted from him and how he can get it right, the whole world started to make a lot more sense to him.

“It’s important to remain natural with dogs like Dylan and continue to talk to them even though they can’t hear you; your face will change as you express how you feel and the dog will be able to read those expressions. They also get a lot from your body language and gestures.

“I’m honestly not surprised by Dylan’s progress, knowing how dedicated Jasmine is. She put the time in and she’s a really precise trainer. She comes in on a Friday and by the time we all come back in on a Monday, she may have fixed behaviour problems for a dog over the weekend, bearing in mind that it’s our busiest time.”

Jasmine added: “I’ve not actually worked with a deaf dog before so this was a massive challenge for my training skills and I wanted to give it a go. I have also started learning a bit of sign language in case we ever get any visitors here with hearing requirements, so I was quite keen to learn this with him.

Dylan with Animal Welfare Assistant Jasmine Coles
Animal Welfare Assistant, Jasmine Coles, works on teaching Dylan sign language

“He’s very clever. He learnt to sit and lay down first, so then we worked on teaching him how to come to me and rollover. He did very well.”

Dylan remained at the centre for nearly three weeks, and in that time he came on leaps and bounds.

He has since found a loving home where he is continuing his training.

Jasmine said: “The owners of Dylan were interested in a young dalmatian having owned one before. Being deaf didn’t put them off, it actually made them more interested in the challenge.

Dylan getting a fuss from Animal Behaviour Coordinator Hannah Miell

“The family came in on several occasions to work with us beside Dylan and although they found it difficult at first to work out the hand signals, by the end, they had mastered it.

“They were so dedicated and in love with Dylan that they decided to rehome him and continue his training in the home.

“We have received some fabulous updates and although there were some hurdles to get over, they got through them with flying colours and have given Dylan a fabulous life with everything he needs.

“Although we miss Dylan, we are so happy for him and his family and hope that he continues to thrive with them.”

Dylan outside in the paddock with Hannah
— Page last updated 24/09/2019