Adopting any rescue dog is a commitment, but taking in a deaf dog is a very special, and sometimes intensive, labor of love that thousands of people choose to take on each year.
One of those people is Christina Lee, who, in addition to adopting her own deaf dogs, runs a Virginia-based nonprofit called Deaf Dogs Rock dedicated to listing deaf dogs available for adoption all over the country.
In April and May alone, the nonprofit facilitated and sponsored 41 deaf dogs and puppies into partner rescues throughout the US through the Deaf Dogs Rock Rocker Puppy Sponsorship program.
“Donations were way down, and we had to lower our sponsorship offers to continue to help as many deaf dogs as we can…our partners understood and we were able to do intakes throughout April and May even with the Pandemic going on,” said Lee. “We have just started up our rescue transports again through Highway Heroes Rescue Transport Team.”
Currently, several transports are coming up in July to get deaf dogs from Texas and Tennessee to partner rescue Green Dogs Unleashed in Troy, Virginia.
Along with her husband—whose name is also named Chris—Lee runs the site full-time, offering resources and financial aid to prospective parents who have big hearts and big hopes for a special needs dog to call their own.
After adopting her own deaf dog, Nitro, she realized that if more deaf dogs are to be adopted, prospective puppy parents are going to need some more guidance.
“We stayed up until 1:00am reading and watching videos on deaf dog training, because we both wanted to be fully prepared for what would be the best way to train our new special needs puppy,” she said.
“What we discovered in doing research about deaf dogs is that there is not a whole lot of resources out there for new owners of deaf dogs.”
This is a full-time passion for Lee, who transports deaf dogs into rescue, foots (paws) medical bills for deaf dogs, and in some cases, helps pay for training classes for their owners.
When she started getting emails from shelters across the U.S., Christina and Chris began to help transport the deaf dogs into no-kill shelters and foster homes. During the winter, she and Chris conduct shelter outreach, supplying local shelters with dog food and coats to keep the pups warm.
“When a deaf dog is off leash, you can’t just call the dog back like a regular hearing dog,” she said. “We try to promote deaf dog training on our website so new deaf dog owners can see it isn’t that much different, training a deaf dog verses a hearing dog.”
Instead of verbal commands, visual commands are used. True story, dogs can be trained to recognize a thumbs-up.
Deaf Dogs Rock provides a welcoming Facebook Community where deaf dog owners can go to connect, share stories. and give each other advice. his The List A Deaf Dog page allows people to directly list information about dogs who need good homes.
“The bond deaf dogs develop with their family members is a very strong bond, and owning a deaf dog makes us better dog parents,” Lee said. “Deaf Dogs Rock is because they hear with their hearts.”