Liam Ward, Madison and William Bartlett and Danielle Ward are learning to communicate with Penny the deaf dog.
Liam Ward, Madison and William Bartlett and Danielle Ward are learning to communicate with Penny the deaf dog. Valerie Horton

Sign of the times for Penny the deaf bull arab

WHERE there's a will, there's a way - and Penny the deaf bull arab is living proof.

The four-month old puppy's outlook was bleak, having recently found herself homeless and in the care of the Fraser Coast Animal Rescue group.

However, it seems that she struck doggie lotto recently when foster carers Darren and Amber Ward took her under their wing and, incredibly, started teaching her sign language.

Mr Ward, who holds a Certificate 2 in Auslan Sign Language, is training Penny with commands like come - with a slap on the leg, sit and stay - with a stop hand gesture and respond to her name using the American sign language P - moving the hand back and forth in a twisting motion.

"You have to get her attention using food treats and just basically repeat the sign," Mr Ward said.

"With the other dogs, we use the word 'come', but then use the sign which is slapping the leg.

"The other dogs come to the call and she comes to the sign, and we just do that with repetition."

Mr Ward, 44, said the training was taking "a little bit of extra time and patience" in comparison to normal obedience, but Penny was responding well.

"It's taking time and definitely a work in progress.

"The big thing is; once she masters the basics, new tricks and other things will come easily.

"I think she will be quite an intelligent dog and if someone puts the time in initially, you will get a lot out of her.

He said Penny's disability certainly didn't hold her back; in fact, she has one quality that most dog owners would envy.

"She's very capable - she plays, she chases balls and does all the things that normal dogs do.

"Except, she doesn't really bark.

"She's very quiet - I'm assuming she doesn't hear the other dogs bark so she doesn't do it herself."

Mr Ward is happy to help train anyone interested in giving this "sweetheart" a permanent home.

"The commands are quite simple to learn and a new person could definitely take over.

"She's very playful and very gentle; she's great with kids and fine with other dogs.

"Obviously we have all become attached to her but this is the whole purpose of what we do: So the animals are not going to the pound or not getting euthanized and finding good homes for them."

  • Find out more by phoning Libby at Fraser Coast Animal Rescue on 0447 646 611.


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