Puppy Proves That Being Different Doesn’t Hold You Back

Bringing Acorn home showed this woman how to hear with the heart.

Mary + Acorn

One night after walking dogs at City Dogs Cleveland, I was asked to give a six-month-old pit bull puppy a short break from kennel life. Apparently, Acorn had taken to throwing his metal water bowl against the concrete sides of his kennel 24/7, driving both the other dogs and the staff absolutely nuts. Thinking it would be fun to have a puppy for a couple of days, I agreed. I had no idea how that puppy would change my life forever!

"I immediately discovered that Acorn was the smartest, most focused dog I had worked with in more than 20 years of obedience training. "

The minute we got home Acorn went wild, tearing through the house like a tornado. He wouldn’t listen to me at all. By the time I finally got him settled in his crate, I was having serious second thoughts.

The next morning, when I entered his room, Acorn wasn’t awake. Not wanting to startle him, I knocked on the door and called to him. No response. In that moment, it dawned on me that he might be deaf. I opened his crate and gently touched him. He gave me a smile that melted my heart. I called the kennel and told them my suspicion and they arranged for him to see a vet. It was true. Acorn was completely deaf.

I knew nothing about deaf dogs, but when City Dogs asked me to keep him until other arrangements could be made, I agreed. A teacher all my life, I assumed that, like a child, a special needs dog would respond to an alternative means of communication. Time for me to learn a new language.

I immediately discovered that Acorn was the smartest, most focused dog I had worked with in more than 20 years of obedience training. In just a week, he learned the sign language for, sit, down, shake, rollover and come. I learned that deaf dogs listen with their eyes and hear with their hearts.

I enrolled him in an obedience class. He was the youngest dog—and the only deaf one—in class, and he excelled. I signed him up for the next level. Again he stood out, and when the class ended in a rally competition he accepted the challenge, doing everything I asked of him and beating out his hearing peers.

Acorn is fearless and enthusiastic in everything he does. He loves hiking, camping, running, and playing with other dogs. But most of all, he loves swimming, playing in mud, and ME. He is funny, smart, and loving towards all and he has won the hearts of hundreds of fans on his Facebook page, DEAFinitely Awesome – The Adventures of Acorn.

Acorn had been adopted and returned once before because the owners said he just didn’t listen. But when he looks at me, I know he hears me with his heart. Now that he’s found his home with me, we have a mission: to go forward as a team, to show the world that deafness is not a limitation, and that deaf dogs rock!

Each year, Petco Love invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Mary Motley won City Dogs Cleveland in Ohio a 2017 Holiday Wishes award.