Nutmeg saved her old dog, Ezra’s life today. From all the way across the front yard and down across the street!
Ezra, Nutmeg’s beloved 12 year old boxer, got out the front door and wandered across the street, before Nutmeg had a chance to realize. With four kids and a busy house, it happens. But Nutmeg did see Ezra in time to watch the speeding car heading straight for her, as she was about to step into the street.
Nutmeg did what we all would have done in that instant. She screamed for her dog to stop. But that’s not what saved Ezra. Because, you see, Ezra is mostly deaf and couldn’t hear the scream. What saved her was that Nutmeg had also taught Ezra hand signals along with the verbal commands. Ezra saw Nutmeg’s hand signal to stay. And she did exactly that.
Having raised a deaf Aussie, I also had to find a way to communicate with her. Since I’d already learned a fair amount of sign language, it was no problem to create signals that cover all the kinds of conversations I’d want to have with her. I still use a lot of sign language with both my dogs today. It’s convenient for those times like now, when I have bronchial pneumonia and can’t talk without coughing. And it’s always convenient to use when my dogs are at a distance and they may not hear me.
Until I have the energy to do a full post, here are a couple of great links and a short video to get you started:
Remember, there are the basic obedience hand signals for sit, down, stay, and heel. These are always used in the same way by everyone. And then there are deaf-dog sign language commands that may be varied, depending on who’s using them. Once you decide what the signal is going to be for the command, it’s important that you stick with that so you don’t wind up confusing your dog.
Not only are these hand signals super easy to teach — as Nutmeg found out, they can be life-saving to know.