Meet Reggie the Pittie
How old is Reggie?
We think he is about 3. We are not 100% – the rescue thought he was about 1-1 1/2 when they found him in the shelter and we have had him for a year and 5 months.
How did Reggie come into your life?
This is kind of funny actually. We were looking for a dog to sponsor through a rescue. We didn’t think we were ready for dog #3, but we wanted to help out. We were looking at the web site for Game Dog Guardian in Lawrence KS where we used to live and saw this photo of Reggie curled up in a tiny ball in a chair. My husband’s father’s name is Reggie and he is deaf, so we thought we would definitely sponsor him until he was adopted. About a week later, I said, I really love that Reggie, maybe we could put in an application for him…my husband said “I did that already!”. It sounds silly, but there was just something about his photo that made us know he was meant to be with us.
Was Reggie born deaf if not how did he become that way?
We are pretty sure he was born deaf. It doesn’t appear that there has been any trauma that would have caused him to become deaf. It was speculated that he may have been dumped *because* of his deafness. Many people see it as a disability or flaw in the dog and abandon them.
How is life different having a deaf animal? Or is it different?
We talk to Reggie just like he can hear us. Some days I actually joke that he is faking because he seems to be able to hear a bag of Doritos open! The only real adjustment was working on our communication skills – making sure he sees us when we are “talking” to him. Overall, it really is NO different than any other animal. There are also a few bonuses, he doesn’t bark at the doorbell, sirens, or fireworks!
The main thing that is important, which is important with all animals, but really with deaf ones is to be consistent with your communication with them. We had to make sure we were both using the same sign, the same way, when working with him – at first we were using the “sit” sign differently and he didn’t know what we were asking him to do. But these were changes in *our* behavior that were necessary, not his.
What preparations did you need to make before bringing Reggie home?
We overly puppy proofed the house and yard. We wanted to be sure that there was no way he could sneak out accidently. We had a really secure yard, but we laid pavers down around the edge of the fence in case he was a digger. We also worked with our girls – Abbie a pit bull and Molly a boxer – to get ready for a new family member. We set up his kennel about a week before he got here so they would get used to it and then did a lot of crate and rotate and walks together when he got here.
Have you always been involved with animals?
My parents worked with Newfoundland rescue when I was growing up, so I have always been around rescue at some level and have always had dogs in my life. We did a lot of fostering and adopted rescues the entire time I lived at home. However, Reggie really sparked OUR rescue life. When he got home, we just didn’t understand how such a loving and amazing dog could just be abandoned and we wanted to try and help other pit bulls get circulated and adopted. It was honestly just a fluke that we found Reggie – even though he was on a web site – had we not been looking at that site, we never would have found him. Reggie made us what to help other dogs get homes in general, but especially deaf dogs because they are so often overlooked for being “flawed”.
Is this your first pit bull?
No, we actually became accidental pit bull owners when we picked a stray, beat up pittie off the road where we previously lived. We had a rescue lab at the time (Jake who went to visit my parents and decided their pond was better than anything we have at home!) and didn’t really know anything about pit bulls. I had grown up with Newfoundlands and that is all I really knew. What we did know is that our stray was a happy happy man and although he obviously had not had a good life, he was always smiling and happy to please. Unfortunately, he got really sick, the vet speculates from the abuse, and he had to be PTS after only being with us for a year and a half. A few months later, my husband took Abbie – our female and princess of the world! – from a breeder giving her away because she was the runt and wouldn’t make him any money. We weren’t quite ready for another at that point, but she was so tiny and helpless, he couldn’t not take her. Then we found Reggie about 1 1/2 years later and got more involved with education and rescue…and now we also have Crumbs (a puppy born at a rescue in TX after his mom was confiscated from a dog fighting ring) and Twinkle Pittie who was dumped in a dog park during a streak of 110+ days in TX with mange and sun burns. Crumbs and Twinkle are both foster failures! We have also fostered four other dogs in the past year: Poobah (a pit bull / bull dog mix), Big Hank (a pit bull we found running down the highway), Oscar (an American Bulldog whose family was moving and didn’t want to “deal” with him) and Paschal (a pit bull puppy dumped by his owner because he had kennel cough). Then right now we have the six puppies from the raid. I believe we are indeed a pit bull family now!
Anything else you would like to share about Reggie?
Reggie isn’t a deaf dog, or a pit bull to us, he’s just a member of our family. Deaf dogs and pit bulls make just as good of pets for the right families as any other breed. We didn’t know before he came into our life, but he changed us so very much. Our belief in the awesomeness of the breed, our understanding of deaf animals, he is the furry light of our life. He is so very happy, loves to meet people, loves to just be a part of our family. He has made us advocates for the pit bull breed and we love when people meet him and are like “oh, HE is a pit bull?” He has met all the neighborhood kids and they love him (he loves them especially when they have cookies!) We want to let Reggie help people understand that pit bulls are not dangerous, they are not bad dogs, they are loving and amazing if they are allowed to be. We are working with him on his Canine Good Citizen certification (hopefully we will get it this fall) and then will start working to have him therapy certified.
What tips do you suggest for someone who wants to adopt a deaf animal?
Just do it! They are great pets and I really believe Reggie can “hear” me in his own way. They don’t really take any more work to train than a hearing dog, it is just about consistent communication. There is a great web site : Deaf Dogs Rock that has all breeds of deaf dogs looking for great homes all over the country. There are also great resources on that page to help people educate themselves about training deaf dogs. http://deafdogsrock.com/