I recently had the pleasure and challenge of capturing images of a deaf bulldog puppy. When I work with people, I can direct them. With babies and pets, I can attract their attention by either calling their name or making some kind of noise to attract their attention. With a deaf dog it is not that easy. I had to attract him by visual stimulation or by touch. It also isn’t easy touching a dog and taking a photo at the same time. Porky was blissfully unaware of his photo shoot and what he was meant to do and went about his business of playing…
I decided to relax and captured him just doing his own thing. Observing Porky, was a wonderful experience for me. He is so loved by his owner and she behaves in a different manner towards him than she would toward a hearing dog.
I realised that a deaf dog in the wrong hands could lead to abuse of the animal- photographing a deaf animal let alone owning one requires patience, kindness and understanding.
Porky seems a rather odd name – but it is not only for his rotund stature and his love of food that his name is fitting – but is apt because due to his inability to hear and know what other dogs sound like, he makes a “squealy piggy” noise at times as opposed to barking as a hearing dog would.
A dog that is born deaf is different to a dog that becomes deaf over time in that a dog born deaf learns immediately to rely on his other senses as opposed to having to adapt to a world that is slowly becoming silent. Porky is unaware that hearing is possible and thus relies on his sight and smell very heavily to understand and respond to his environment appropriately. For instance, Porky watches his owner very closely for visual cues and responds accordingly – this was one of the first signs his owner picked up on – noticing that Porky was very focused on her movements and behaved well yet didn’t respond to loud noise, whistles or the sound of his name at all.
As Porky grows he will learn by sign language and vibration. He can feel you approaching him by your foot falls, know you have put his food down by smell and know you are home by the vibration of your car or your specific scent.
Porky wears a collar with a tag that reads “I am deaf” along with his name and owners details so that should he ever get lost, someone would hopefully read it and understand why he does not respond to sound, in addition he is also chipped with all of his owners details and the fact that he is hearing impaired should a vet or SPCA find and scan him, they will understand why he is unresponsive to verbal commands.
I must say, I am a lot richer for the experience of working with Porky. His positive energy and lovely character inspired me so. And in the words of his owner, Porky is a gift and not handicapped in any way and in fact in his own way is teaching me more than I am teaching him – nothing ever comes your way without a reason – Porky is teaching me patience and my children compassion and acceptance and above all the fact that you don’t have to be perfect to be awesome!
Here is a couple of images of the wonderful bulldog called Porky. Hope you like them. Feedback is always appreciated.