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Rescued deaf and partially blind Aussie's, Good Therapy dog? Yes or No

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

  
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Colt ADOPTED

Eat, Play,- Sleep!!!
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 23, '07 5:43pm PST 
Hey guys i need some help. Im with a rescue group here in my area and i rescued 2 Aussies a few months back. They are lethal whites and are deaf and partially blind. I was wondering if they make good therapy dogs? I heard from a few people now that i should get them involved with this. Because of there breed they need a job to do. I would really like to find someone willing to adopt them to do this kind of work with them. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am all new to thereapy training for dogs.
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Taikoubou- CGC

1009
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 23, '07 6:10pm PST 
I'll be honest, I don't think therapy work would be the best choice or MOST deaf/blind dogs, simply because of the risk of them being startled or confused by a constantly changing environment where they must interact with many people who may or may not be dog savvy.
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Colt ADOPTED

Eat, Play,- Sleep!!!
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 23, '07 7:35pm PST 
Now thats wierd bacause i have talk to others online that have worked with dogs like these for therapy and they said they make wonderful therapy dogs.
Thanks for your advice. Its nice to get other piont of views and opinions.
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Jenna

We Are The- Champions!
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 23, '07 8:22pm PST 
I'm not sure therapy work would be best for the pups. I'm like a previous poster, the constant changing could startle them and if startle, I'd be concerned about how they reacted. Then again, with the right socialization and training, they may be okay.

However, I would definately consider training them for tracking work. It's amazing how acute their nose can be, and being in a situation where they already rely on it so much, they could be simply amazing I think at tracking and scent descrimination work.

I can see using the tracking as a venue to talk to people about the need for responsible breeding. I'm not sure, but couldn't their situation have been prevented by more research into the sire and dam's bloodlines?

Good luck.
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Sun Dec 23, '07 8:44pm PST 
I think it really depends on the individual pups personality. I bet that a deaf and mostly blind therapy dog would really be able to help a lot of people realize that having a disability isn't the end of the world, and give people courage and everything. But you'd need to make sure that the dog enjoyed the therapy work and that they were not easily stressed out by being in unfamiliar situations etc, just like with any other therapy dog. I don't see anything wrong with socializing them heavily and getting them into the right training classes etc while they are young and see if it works out. If they do have the right termperament and enjoy it, I am sure people would love to have them visit as therapy dogs, and that would be great! But if they're not right for therapy work at least you'll have a well trained and nicely socialized pup. Plus, all that training would make them more adoptable I'm sure!

I really like Jenna's idea of training them in tracking-- they say that when you're unable to use certain senses, your other senses are heightened and kind of compensate for the sense you cannot use. I bet your pups have super awesome senses of smell so you might want to also work on tracking with them. Maybe contact a local search and rescue group and see what they have to say about it.

Also, Jenna you are right that responsible breeding would have prevented this problem-- these pups are the result of irresponsible breeding and are now in foster care with people who are able to help them become all they can be and who will help them find the perfect forever homes.
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Colt ADOPTED

Eat, Play,- Sleep!!!
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 24, '07 7:29am PST 
I never thought of tracking. Good idea. They have an amazing sence of smell. Definetlt worth looking into. As far as them flipping out in unfamilular places or situatons. I dont think they would. I started socializing them right after i rescued them at 7 weeks of age. They go to the bark park, adoption events, for walks through the pet stores. They love to go anywhere and everywhere. And i never have a problem with them. I was always told after i got them never treat them any different than any other dog so i didnt. I think i will definetly look into tracking.
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Gio

CD RE (CKC)- RXMCL (CARO) FM- CGN SJATD
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 24, '07 7:40am PST 
I'll agree with the previous posters. I think it is nearly impossible to say whether or not a dog will be a good therapy dog based solely on whether they are blind or deaf, etc. Temperament is the most important factor when it comes to being a therapy dog. If the temperament isn't there, then it just isn't going to work. If the temperament is there, then being blind or deaf won't really be an issue.

I would suggest to just start socializing, take them everywhere, meet everyone, expose them to new places, and environments, sights and sounds (in case there is still some residual function in the ears and eyes), people, smells, etc. If it turns out that they are very well adjusted and balanced dogs, then therapy work definitely isn't out of reach. But if they don't turn out to be the right temperament, it isn't the end of the world! They can still be wonderful family dogs and participate in a variety of fun activities.

Check out tracking, like the others suggested. Also maybe think about Rally-O. There is currently a dog in the Rally-O class that I teach that is partially blind and will soon be completely blind as she has a disorder that results in complete deterioration of the retinas. If you can be creative and find an inventive trainer that is willing to think outside the box, then Rally-O would be a great option as well.
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Colt ADOPTED

Eat, Play,- Sleep!!!
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 24, '07 7:46am PST 
What exactly is Rally-O? Im not familular with that.
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Gio

CD RE (CKC)- RXMCL (CARO) FM- CGN SJATD
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 24, '07 7:57am PST 
Rally-O is Rally Obedience. Kind of a mix using obedience exercises but set up like an agility course. So the dog and handler navigate through a set course completing all of the obedience tasks. Higher levels also include some agility and freestyle exercises. AKC/CKC, APDT, and CARO offer Rally-O.

The other great thing about it is that it is a sport that makes allowances for handicapped dogs or handlers. So in the case of the blind dog in my class, she is learning to heel with a tiny bell tied to the handler's shoelaces. She follows the sound of the bell to know where she is in relation to her handler. She is also learning to follow hand cues ... the handler has a certain "training hand lotion", a normal hand lotion that has a scent to it and she only wears during training. By moving her hand past the dog's face, she can "lure" with the scent and give a cue to move one way or the other. These sorts of things can be allowed in competition, as long as they are approved by the judge prior to the trial. So it is completely possible that the blind little dog can go on and earn a few titles despite her disability.

In the case of a deaf and blind dog, you may be able to train with a touch stick or train that certain touches to spots on the body serve as cues for particular actions. Normally touching the dog isn't allowed in trial, but if it is part of a disability (and the judge sees that you aren't physically beating or reprimanding the dog! BOL) then light touches that mean "turn right" or "sit" etc. would be allowed.
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Colt ADOPTED

Eat, Play,- Sleep!!!
 
 
Barked: Mon Dec 24, '07 11:46am PST 
Oh ok thanks for filling me in. Thats sounds like to much fun. Do you know how i can find out where they have anything like that in my area? the nice thing with these guys is there vision isnt half bad. They actually can see pretty good. Well out of the one eye. The deformed eye is alittle iffy on how well they can actually see out of it. They get around with out any problems though.
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