This adorable pup was born deaf and is learning sign language thanks to his deaf owner.
Meet Emerson, a four-month-old black Labrador mix. He was born the runt of the litter and had a really tough time early in life. First, he was born deaf. Second, he contracted Parvovirus, an infection that is estimated to be 80% fatal in young puppies. It causes diarrhea, fever, vomiting, dehydration, and in Emerson's case, even a few seizures.
Needless to say, Emerson’s litter mates were all adopted off fairly quickly, while Emerson was put into a shelter. For a while, shelter caretakers thought that Emerson wouldn’t make it, but he proved to be a fighter and pulled through.
At NFR Maine animal shelter, Emerson convalesced while the shelter started putting out internet ads to find him his perfect forever home. One of those ads eventually caught the eye of Nick Abbott, who also just so happened to be deaf.
Speaking to Pretty52, Nick said that he felt his own hearing difficulties made him the perfect match for Emerson. "When I saw [Emerson's] post online, my heart went out for him and I wanted to meet him. We connected instantly when we met and I took him home that night.”
Nick emailed NFR Maine and arranged for a meeting. In their Facebook post, Emerson’s foster mom wrote that it was fate that brought Emerson and Nick together. "Emerson made a direct line for Nick and sat at his feet. That's all it took. I was sold that this was fate, and these 2 belonged to each other."
But just because they’re both deaf doesn’t mean that the job of a new parent is any easier. The first step with any pup is training, and luckily Emerson is a quick learner. After giving Emerson a week to get acclimated to his new home and family, Nick started teaching him basic sign language commands like sit and stay. It took him just two days to learn how to sit on command via sign language.
"So far Emerson knows how to sit, lay down, stay, come and we are currently working on shake."
Nick says that training Emerson is the same as training any other type of dog: it takes patience, repetition, love, and attention.
One thing that remains a bit of a problem is house training. Emerson has difficulty telling Nick when it’s time to go outside, and that has resulted in a few accidents. But we’re confident that these two will figure it out.