Able To Love a Disabled Dog

Devoted families help disabled dogs lead fulfilling lives.


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Lilly and Pearl
Three stunning white Boxers, all adopted from a Boxer rescue group in Chesapeake, Va., look to all the world like ideal dogs. To Barbara and Carl Meyer of Norfolk, Va., they are.

It doesn't matter to them that Frank, 9, is the only one who can hear. Lilly, 6, and Pearl, 4, were born deaf.

These are dogs, just like hearing dogs, Barbara Meyer says. Theres no difference. My girls are not the least bit handicapped. Not at all.

The first night she fostered Lilly, then 13 months, communication was an obvious problem. With patience, love, American Sign Language, and a harness, Lilly blossomed, as Pearl did later. The dogs respond to light signals blinking the porch light means the end of playtime, as well as Meyers body language, and light-up toys.

Daily responsibilities include regular obedience training and ensuring the dogs don't bolt out the front door or escape the backyard things most dog owners focus on, too.

Never, ever let them loose, Meyer says. You can't call them back if they don't turn to look at you.

The dogs are bonded to Meyer, who is rarely out of their sight. Lilly loves snuggling, and class clown Pearl has been known to look away from Meyer in an I-can't-hear-you maneuver.

Lilly and Pearl are no different than Frank, she says. I just have to be very careful they're safe. 

For Further Reading:

  • Living With Blind Dogs: A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low Vision Dogs by Caroline D. Levin (Lantern, 2003, $29.95)
  • Living With a Deaf Dog by Susan Cope-Becker (self-published, 1997, $15.95)

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