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Deaf Dog Brings Love to Many

Shadow, the Companion Animal of the Year

When Shadow makes his monthly visit to the Oak Manor Nursing Facility, it is much-anticipated. The typical Jack Russell Terrier may be noisy and hyperactive, but Shadow is different. He is calm and very well mannered. As the residents gather to watch the talented canine perform his large repertoire of tricks, no one would suspect that the little Jack Russell is completely deaf

Shadow was adopted from an animal shelter by Paul and Marilyn Ausland of Columbus, GA. His tricks are done by responding to Marilyn’s hand signals. “We had to be more patient with him [than other dogs they’ve trained] and it’s taken longer," explains Marilyn.

Cathy Miller Saye plays with one of her deaf dogs at a Marietta, GA park.

"Deafness is more common in dogs with white coats" says Cathy Miller Saye, who has been profoundly deaf since birth and is an advocate for placing deaf dogs with permanent families. "Hereditary deafness can appear in any breed. Whatever breed a deaf dog is, it will be like any dog of that breed first and deaf only second. Living with and training a deaf dog is just like living with and training a hearing dog, only you have to learn to talk with your hands and your body language instead of your voice."

Because of his determination and drive, Shadow was voted the Companion Animal of the Year by the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association which honors and celebrates the human-animal bond and the ways animals enhance our lives. He was nominated by Dr. Patrice Holt-Dunn of the Cooper Creek Pet Care Hospital in Columbus, GA.