Sign language learned by deaf dogs

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Piglet and Barbie are smart, energetic and attentive dogs who have gotten attached to two behavioral experts at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue.  Each day, Kristi Jackson and Michelle Mandell take time to teach each dog sign language. 

"Barbie and I have gotten very close since I've been here," explained Mandell.

Each of the dogs has been adopted and returned to the shelter.  Jackson says the owners have found the dogs loveable, but with added needs.

"There's benefits, and there's adjustments.  Just small adjustments," Jackson said.

Each dog is deaf, but they have learned signs for sit, stay, come, shake, and good dog.  They have also learned the signs for silly, happy and hello.  They're learning new signs every day, all motivated by treats and a thumb's up for "good dog."

"No matter what, their noses are in full force, and they can smell me coming down the hall," laughed Mandell.

Naturally, most who meet them talk to the dogs.  The ladies say, that's actually a good thing, as the dogs can read facial expressions.

"Just the smile on my face lights up her face," said Mandell.

There are benefits too.  The dogs are not scared of thunder, for example.

"If the doorbell rings at your house, these dogs are not going to hear it," laughed Jackson.

Both dogs are currently up for adoption at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.  Through the month of September, Barbie has been selected to be one of several animals with a waived adoption fee, free vaccines, and free food for a year.  Contact: 561-686-3663 or visit www.hspb.org

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