Sign Language

A week ago I gave our neighbor’s visiting grandkids a Braille game. Tennis balls in a muffin tin and three questions to ask their grandparents providing a Braille letter or two for all’s instruction. See, the Grands,’ our neighbors have a blind dog who tends to bark at people who stand outside our door and whisper then call out, “Zoe!” Heaven bless them, they’re about to be teens and will forget about Zoe, who they’ve called on for years.

My husband should have stayed in the hotel this weekend and not come home. He has a bad cold but can eat and drink tea and take Emergen-C. He won’t take anything else in pill form, even Wellness Formula.

After our hip-less wonder dog grew her own hips from cartilage, we started Dog Training 101. I did the work. My husband sat by the wall and criticized my behavior. Not the dog’s. It didn’t matter. The Commandant knew Zoe would obey everything I said so never even looked at her and concentrated on miscreants, the ones who misbehaved in order to behave and get a treat. Smarter than the average Bear (cartoon).

With my first great dog, Chani, I learned sign language from her trainer. She’d been abused by a deputy sheriff for a year and local kids used to throw rocks at her over their fence, then in a no-kill shelter for another but her time was up. I took her home for ten years and found a trainer while getting her good food for a change. Fear was a major factor, that I nipped in the bud right away with me, who even sat with her at the shelter in a neck brace every week. A year later at home with me she loved babies, kids, men, and men in uniform.

In a private training session John told me she was rude as she looked his purebred Schuttshunds in the eye and she’s a Beta dog. I learned sit, down, stay, come to me (the most important one) and down with my arms. No voice. She just knew the command.

Today, with my husband sleeping away a cold, 12 years with Zoe my “new” dog responds to non-verbal commands. No, it won’t keep her from my husband letting her get a chicken bone after July 4 fireworks and ruining our bed linens with vomit from that bone. It will allow him sleep.

I got to teach the kiddos Braille. even got a Braille bookmark for them for the Grands to deliver. I’ve known dog non-verbal communication for decades. I can say sit, down, come home, and get her off the bed without a word spoken. Thanks, kids, and John the trainer. Cheers! Sleep, my dear, there’s tea waiting when you’re ready. Dee

ps She’s old and kind of a mascot in our neighborhood. Heel is not in her repertoire, though I know the sign for it. The good thing is that she’s a people’s and dog’s dog. She loves everyone, even cats, save for amblers which means homeless or tourists who stand there and take a lot of pictures. She’s on a 1.5″ Martingale (for Greyhounds) handmade silk collar and 6′ braided leather leash, no stitching. It gives me control on the walk. I’ve arthritis so she can’t pull me over when she sees a squirrel. D

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