I met Karlie and Rhett when I was in Texas this past January. Karlie is deaf and has been an advocate and educator in the deaf community in Austin, Texas for years. Last April, she adopted Rhett, the blue heeler, who is a deaf dog.

A friend knew that I was looking to adopt a deaf dog, so she shared a few deaf dogs needing homes, but they were all in loving homes by the time I called. Then, I saw a picture of Rhett who was at an animal shelter in a small town in Texas. I fell in love with him when I saw his photo; I knew I MUST meet him! So, my parents and I drove out to meet him and I fell in love right when he greeted me with a big hug and kiss. I knew from there; he was going home with me.

Karlie wants to educate people about deaf dogs because in truth they are no different than any other dog.

I want to educate people about deaf dogs because a lot of deaf dogs end up in shelters. People think they don’t know how to own a deaf dog. You don’t have to know sign language to own them, you can just make up hand signals: like, thumbs up! Dogs will look at your body language to read you.

Rhett and Karlie do lots of activities together and, during our afternoon together, we went on a little adventure to one of their favourite creeks.

Rhett’s most favorite thing is CAR RIDES, he goes crazy when I sign “car”. He spins and spins the entire way to the car in full excitement! So we love car rides, swimming in rivers, lakes, pool; anything water related. We go hiking all over Austin Texas, and visit lots of places that are dog friendly!

Since Rhett came into Karlie’s life, they have formed a bond like no other.

He means the world to me because we relate in so many ways! We both sleep through rainstorms, sirens, alarms and much more. We feel things around us through vibrations. We can both understand sign language. He is always by my side and always follows me everywhere I go. He reminds me every day of my abilities. He is my best friend! He helps educate those who cross our paths about our deafness.

Since May 4th to the 10th is the national Deaf Awareness Week, here are three tips if you’re thinking about adopting a deaf dog.

1.      Make sure to keep your dog on a leash when you’re out and to have a fenced in back yard as they will not hear you yell for them if they run off.

2.      Learn to communicate with your dog using sign language and/or hand signals: both ways work! You can teach them different hand signals for good, sit, stay, down and watch: as long as you keep your signs consistent, your dog will learn quickly.

3.      To get your dog’s attention, you can either use light, smell or vibration. You can flick the light switch on and off in the room they’re in, tap on the floor or table near them as this vibration will alert them to your presence or if they are sleeping put food close to their nose to rouse them.

Thank you so much Karlie and Rhett for inviting me into your home and on an afternoon adventure with you! Mostly, thanks for letting me tell your story and your continuous effort to educate people about deaf dogs!

To learn more about Karlie and Rhett, follow them on Instagram HERE!