Welcome! I’m Ralphie… just plain Ralphie. I was responsibly bred but due to the happenstance of genetics, I was also born deaf. Once my ears opened up, when puppies typically begin to hear the world around them, my breeder realized something was different. I continued to sleep soundly while other puppies awoke to eagerly greet people when they approached. Still, through observing me, my potential was recognized. I was gifted with early conditioning and handling, just like other puppies, and was given the opportunity to prove myself.
I’ve been painting since I was a pup. When I was first learning how to paint, it was a trick that required me to pick up a paint loaded brush, put the paint on paper, then put the brush back in the pot. I admit, there were times I painted mom and my little sister and that I’d rather just drop my brush on the floor sometimes.
Mom walked by a painting that was drying on the wall one day and something caught her eye. I had painted a star. Can you find the star in one of the paintings below? She looked through my other paintings and spotted more things… runners, a cat, a dancer, a flamingo, a lighthouse, a tulip… all hidden in the larger paintings. The tulip below was actually painted on the wall. I had missed the paper entirely.
Below are some of the curious things I’ve painted. I like to call it, “what do you see” art. While some people just see a mess of colors, others see fun shapes or things. Give it a try!
The first painting is a combination of two. Look for the blue guy with the big floppy shoes in the top painting. Is there also a lacrosse player? Find a short video clip of me painting with mom as I’m painting the orange man running. The other paintings have their titles hidden so you use your own imagination.
Communication – Talking to Deaf Dogs
"How much of a dog's abilities is based only on what the human believes is possible?" Just Plain Ralphie
People can communicate with me. Some of my visual cues are American Sign Language and others are unique signs mom made up. Any sign can be used for a new behavior as long as it’s unique and used consistently with good timing. Adding a tiny treat makes it more fun, memorable and engaging.
It all starts with a look, freely offered watchfulness. With each look, I was rewarded with a happy face, a thumbs-up and a tiny treat so it would happen more often. Timing is important because this is what helps to communicate to deaf dogs exactly when we’ve done something right. If timing is off, we won’t understand what’s being asked of us. You can capture behaviors as they naturally occur or you can lure us using a super good tiny treat at our nose. Brief training sessions incorporated into everyday life can really add up to better understanding and retention.
It’s a beautiful thing when communication has been established because learning and understanding can begin! Focus should be on a dog’s available senses rather than the sense or senses that are missing. One less sense is also one less distraction.
Deaf dogs can be enabled through love, conditioning/handling and training so they can best reach their own individual potential.
Some requests I understand…
- Look at me
- Sit up
- Head down
- Back up
- Elephant trick
- Drop down
- Heel, beside me
- Right Turn
- Left Turn
- Hold, Carry, Drop It.
- Cross your paws
- Roll over to side and roll over
- Ring a bell
- Paint with a brush
- Mimic behaviors- spin, lift feet.
- Directions by pointing
- Signaling to go around, head down or to bop an object.
- Stay, wait
- Open a cooler and bring me drink.
- Sniff floor
- Go to the door
- Orbit (backwards around me)
- Put paw on object
- Play the triangle
- Put letter in open slot
- Shake hands
- Away, go to mark
- Skateboard, 3 on the board, pushing with the 4th.
- Put my toys away.
- Go away, pick up objects, bring them back and drop them in a container.
- Take an object, go away, drop it in a container, return.
- Do your business (aka potty).
- Let’s put your topknot up.
- Let’s wash your mucky face.
- Touch with Nose