We take Story with us just about everywhere we go. We get many, many questions about her. The two main questions are why is she deaf and how do we train her. The following excepts are from Aussie Rescue in San Diego. To read more about Aussies and Double Merle Aussies, please visit their site at aussierescuesandiego.org
What is a double merle?
“A double merle, sometimes called a “lethal white”, is a dog who was bred from two dogs with a merle patterned coat (see photo), such as some Australian Shepherds. There is a dominant (not recessive) gene in merle dogs that links together to cause vision and hearing impairments in the puppies from such a breeding. Sometimes the puppies can be blind AND deaf. These puppies are usually white, which is what the term “lethal white” refers to ( ‘lethal’ refers to their increased chance of being euthanized). Please see The White Aussies Project, Wikipedia, and Amazing Aussies of Arizona to learn more.”
Living with and training a deaf dog
“Loving and living with a deaf dog is not easy or even possible for everyone. It is certainly not for the lazy couch potato or the person who is reactive to events or even the person who is always busy doing something else. You can’t run around behind them saying “No! No! Oh nooo!” (Those of you who have a deaf pup are probably laughing right now remembering the first time you tried that!). As with any dog, but especially the deaf dog, you need to be proactive in setting the dog up to do what you’d like him/her to do. It’s pretty easy, actually. Want the dog to do something like come to you? Get his/her attention and then ask for them to come. Reward him/her when they do! It’s so easy, it’s hard. We use simple hand signals; the same hand signals we use for our other dogs. It’s important to use gestures that are natural for you, so it’s easy for you to be consistent. It is a language! For more info on hand signals, visit deafdogs.org, a very helpful and informative website.”