http://www.thedailyjournal.com/article/ ... 01/5070311
Deaf pit bull shares new owner's disability
VINELAND -- Daniel Kohr knows what his new pet is going through.
Kohr and his fiancée Andrea Parkhill adopted a deaf, white pit bull they named Bali from the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on April 21. Kohr, who is deaf, and Parkhill, a sign language instructor in the Atlantic City school district, have already begun teaching him American Sign Language.
Parkhill said Bali has already learned sit, lay down, food, come here and bathroom.
"He's picking it up really fast," she said. "So far, everything's been good."
The Atlantic City couple has another pit bull and four Chihuahuas that also have been taught sign language. Kohr said he's excited to teach Bali and noted it's more difficult because he has to get the dog's full attention to communicate with him.
"Being in this environment, he'll pick up the signs fast," he said in a phone interview through Parkhill. "He'll have a big vocabulary in a few months."
Parkhill said Bali compensates for his lack of hearing with his awareness of his surroundings, but the puppy, who is less than four months old, has some things to learn.
"He depends on the other dogs a lot. He feels their energy," she said, but added Bali got into a minor fight with another dog because he tried to take a bone and didn't hear the other dog growl. "He should be more receptive to body language and he's learning.
SPCA executive director Bev Greco said it's not uncommon to have animals with disabilities. The office has had other deaf animals and animals with partial or no sight, she said.
Michelle Boudreau, SPCA volunteer coordinator, said Bali came to the SPCA as a stray from Millville.
The society initially named the dog "Keller" after Helen Keller the famous author and political activist who was blind and deaf. The SPCA had a deaf pit bull a few years ago they named Helen.
The SPCA warned potential owners Bali must live in a home that is fenced in and remain on a leash at all times in public since he can't hear oncoming traffic.
But despite the difficulties, Boudreau said Bali was a very sweet and gentle dog.
"He's calmer and settles down quicker, because he's not stimulated by noise," she said. "We'd have to wake him up in the morning because he couldn't hear when a member of the staff came in. The other dogs were all barking and he was sound asleep."
Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.