When families decide to add a dog to their lives, purebred puppies often outshine those that are abandoned, neglected, and abused. Rescue dogs wait days, months, and years for the chance to attract someone’s attention.
And when the dog has special needs, their chances of being adopted are even worse. That was the bleak future a sweet deaf dog named Mika was headed toward.
Born Deaf, Mika ended up at a small rural shelter in Arkansas with little hope of being adopted. Her previous owners had found the now seven-month-old puppy at a high-kill shelter, but they were never told the dog was deaf.
They decided she wasn’t the right fit for the family and surrendered her to the rescue. Mika’s rescuers knew her chances were slim, but they wanted to do something to help.
So they called Jesie Stephenson, one of three women who run the NYC shelter, Anarchy Animal Rescue. She and her team frequently take in dogs with special needs, and they didn’t hesitate to open their doors to deaf dog Mika.
Mika’s chances at a good life improved, and it didn’t take long for the pup to catch the eye of someone special. Stephenson told her good friend Amanda Geffen about her shelter’s newest addition.
Geffen is deaf, and she felt an instant connection with the dog no one wanted. It didn’t take more than a short introduction to convince the pair they belonged together.
Geffen took Mika home and immediately started teaching the deaf dog to communicate. Most people walk past deaf dogs at the shelter because they think they’ll be too much work.
How can you teach a dog sit, stay, and come, when they can’t hear you? Geffen didn’t need to think twice about a simple solution.
She started teaching Mika sign language. They started with the basics—sit, shake, stay, lie down—and Mika was a fast learner. She mastered those simple skills with easy enthusiasm and slipped into a comfortable routine with her new owner.
With basic obedience accomplished, Geffen went on to teach her puppy more complex signs. She taught her “I love you” and “mommy” and uses them to communicate with the dog on a daily basis.
For the team back at Anarchy Animal Rescue, the mission has always been the same. Stephenson told iHeartdogs, “A dogs ability to see or hear has no bearing on their ability to love. They are resilient and they will adapt. They just need a little patience, a little love, and chance.”
Helping a dog with special needs is about putting effort toward understanding and compassion. The connection shared between Mika and Geffen helps them overcome challenges.
What works for someone doesn’t work for everyone, and no one can look at Mika today and say she’s “too much work.” Geffen found a solution that works, and the duo will face life’s future challenges stronger (and happier) now that they’re together.