Samantha (Echo’s Mom):
A lot of people call him the Helen Keller dog because he does have those disabilities and he was able to learn just like she was.
Rocky Kanaka (Animal Advocate):
If you think a hearing or seeing impaired dog is a lot to handle, Echo’s proves it can be simple and rewarding!
Echo was found in a backyard breeder situation and he was brought to a local rescue and that is where we found him. When we got him. He was pretty skinny, covered in fleas. the biggest condition he has is that he’s deaf and then he’s blind in one eye. His left eye was not completely developed.
When we got Echo, family members were kind of like what are you doing with this like deaf and blind dog? Like that’s gonna be really hard. But it ended up being so easy and wasn’t really that big of a problem. You just gotta make some adjustments for them.
The advice I would give to somebody if they were gonna bring in a deaf or blind dog to your home is do your research, find out what you need to kind of prepare for. One of the first things we did to try Echo actually was the like would flip the switch on the lights. So he would look at us to kind of get his attention cuz he can’t call him and then he would know, like to look around to find his human.
So with Echo, the startle response was something we were concerned about. So when we got him, he was a puppy. We made sure that we like touched him when he was asleep, when he was awake on his paws, like everywhere. That way when we do touch you and you’re asleep, you don’t jump up and bite somebody. And he never did that but we did it from when he was a little puppy.
Echo does know several like hand signals. Echo knows far more trips than our other dog. We have a hearing dog. His handicap does not affect him at all. He doesn’t know he has one. And you wouldn’t know if we didn’t tell you, like if he were just looking and we were doing commands and stuff, he would think he was just a regular dog.
When we got Echo, I didn’t know a ton about like the reason he was this way. I knew he was a double merle, but I did not really know what that meant. So once we got him, we did a lot of research and found out that it is 100% preventable.
It’s like the pattern of fur. It’s really popular and if you breed two dogs with that gene, they have a 25% chance of being deaf, blind or both, and they do it anyways. And that’s how we ended up with dogs like Echo. So that’s why it’s really important to breeders know what they’re doing and you know where you’re getting your dogs from, and then be prepared to adopt a thousand more because we got Echo and then we got two more because we just loved it and we’re hooked on them.
All three of the deaf dogs do really interesting things when they’re playing. Like they will tap on the floor, they’ll tap each other on the head, they’ll like bark really close to each other. It’s like almost like they know they can’t hear each other, so they’re trying to get the vibrations closer so they can notice that they’re there.