Dogs with disabilities require a special approach. This is doubly true for individuals who cannot hear or see. For such an animal, even interaction with the owner can be a challenge.
Nashville resident Aiden Mann is an assistant veterinarian. Not surprisingly, he’s great with animals. Except that his six-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy, Plum, had a problem: from birth, the deaf and blind puppy was afraid to be touched.
But this peculiarity did not deter Mr. Mann, rather the opposite. He recounts:
“I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, but I knew I loved this dog and wanted to provide a good life for him.”
And Aiden did a great job!
He and his pet are now developing a whole system of light touches, allowing them to understand what the owner is doing and what he wants. Plum already understands when he is asked to sit down and also knows how to follow Aidan if necessary.
The dogs don’t get bored at Aidan’s house. He plays with them a lot, takes them swimming in an enclosed cove near his house and to the dog park.
Aidan talked about how Plum follows his commands.
“We have a sort of ‘sit’ command – I touch him by the area under his chin. When I want him to go in a certain direction, I gently point his nose in the right direction or run my hand over his body in the right direction.”
Aidan is often asked how he wakes Plum up.
It turned out to be one of the first tasks Aidan encountered. Since Plum couldn’t see or hear, it had always been a problem for his owner. The sleeping dog was frightened by any, even the most gentle touch, and immediately jumped up on his paws in a panic. Then Aiden tried not touching Plum with his hand, but blowing softly on his nose, and it worked.