By Phil Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society
Published in the Englewood Sun on March 6, 2016
Blue is quite a dog. A gallant-looking American Bulldog, or maybe even a Boxer mix, as some people think. He was only 7 months old when we first saw him. For a while it seemed as though life at the Suncoast Humane Society was more enjoyable for him than being at home with family.
Blue originally was brought to Suncoast, along with his brother Ryno, in May 2015. His owners were moving and were unable to take them along. Blue experienced some setbacks trying to adjust to life in a shelter environment. Ryno, also a great-looking dog, had little trouble and, as luck would have it, was adopted within his first week.
As the weeks and months passed, staff and volunteers continued to care for Blue, making sure he was played with, exercised and loved. Everyone was waiting for the appropriate home to come along. Finally, during month three, it happened. Blue was adopted and appeared to be heading for a permanent home.
Sadly, this was not to be, as a few weeks later, Blue showed up at the Suncoast Humane Society, again, as a lost or stray dog. After being identified, through his microchip, his owner was contacted. We were saddened to be informed that they were not able to reclaim Blue, and no longer able to care for him. We were told that he was a very needy dog, had been destructive around the house, and in fact, had chewed his tie-out leash and ran away.
Staff meetings were held to determine what could be done to help assure that Blue would have a chance at being adopted into a special, permanent home. You see, Blue has special needs. He is hearing-impaired. He is unable to hear normal training commands, or even the sounds that would alert him to his surroundings. The next home had to be fully prepared to provide for Blue.
So the staff animal behavioral team instituted an extensive four-week training program for Blue. It was designed specifically for a hearing-impaired dog, using sign language and body movement to teach basic obedience and manners. Blue acted excited and was eager to learn to sit, lie down, stay, come when called, as well as to stop jumping up and other ill-mannered habits. Humane Society volunteers assisted with the efforts to achieve Blue's training. A video was completed to help with the training of future hearing-impaired dogs.
Blue was developing quite a fan club from the website and social media postings regarding his training program. Among those most smitten by Blue was a Port Charlotte family. Every Tuesday they would visit Blue to check on his progress. As it became obvious that they were very interested in adopting Blue, they became part of his training regimen.
Their young daughter could not take her eyes or hands off Blue, and Blue shared the affection. They became instant buddies. The timing was perfect for this family, as they were awaiting the closing and a move into their new home. One Tuesday, however, a week or so from their planned adoption date, they just couldn't leave Blue behind any longer. When they discovered, completely unplanned, that the husband, wife and daughter had all worn blue to visit Blue, that's when they knew they had to take him home that day!
Not a bad ending, or shall we say a new beginning, for a white, hearing-impaired dog named Blue.