Body Language Has No Limits

OneMind Dogs community member Sandy White recently mentioned that her Shetland Sheepdog, Splash, has quite an amazing story. Of course we were intrigued and we just had to know more!

Photo Credit: Springfield Photography

Sandy began: “My little deaf girl Splash turns 20 months old this week. She's a purebred tri-colored (white-factored) Shetland Sheepdog. Her story starts with the fact that neither I, nor her breeder, friends or trainers, had a clue she was deaf until I had her tested at around 6 months of age. She compensated extremely well. In retrospect we believe she's been deaf from birth in a litter of 6.”

Sandy says that Splash used her keen powers of observation to “fool us all.” Luckily Sandy naturally relies on body language for initial training, so they turned out to be the perfect match for each other. “Splash excelled in her Puppy and Pre-Sport agility classes with none of us the wiser. We all had to laugh since all her training had been done with "click & treat" reinforcement. Now I've replaced the click with a thumbs up gesture” explains Sandy.

Success in agility with the help of OneMind Dogs

Sandy’s Pre-Sport agility instructor suggested that she might be interested in participating in a OneMind Dogs 3-day clinic in Indianapolis late last summer. “As soon as I read that the program was based on a deaf dog I signed up. Unfortunately a couple of weeks before the clinic, Splash injured her shoulder playing with her visiting sister. However on the 3rd day, I got her out for a short exercise with instructor Mari Kaplas who was teaching about obstacle commitment, Splash amazed me!” 

Sandy and Splash continued their agility training utilizing the OneMind Dogs techniques as Splash matured enough to start agility competition. Since April they have been competing in both AKC and CPE venues. “She is currently competing in Open Preferred Standard and Open Preferred Jumpers with Weaves in AKC. In CPE she is competing at level 3 (of 5) in 6 of the 7 classes and posted a perfect eight Qs in eight runs at her most recent competition.” 
In addition to Agility, Splash has also attained an Open title in Barn Hunting and she is accomplished in the sport of Treibball, working at the Novice level (National Association of Treibball Enthusiasts).

More secrets

To make Splash’s story even more remarkable, Sandy ran a routine blood panel on her in late December in preparation for a dental cleaning and she was horrified to discover that Splash was suffering from advanced kidney failure. She was hiding that secret too! Splash went straight to a specialty vet clinic for a week of intensive treatment and it was determined she suffers from kidney dysplasia. January was touch and go, however in February she turned the corner and showed steady improvement. By March she was recovered enough to restart her sport activities.

Sandy says Splash is a "high maintenance" little girl on a special kidney support and hydration diet. Her long-term prognosis is grim, but you can't tell watching her now. Currently she's stable and needless to say, Sandy is hoping Splash “continues to surprise her doctors for months (dare I say years?) to come”.

A deaf dog taught us how to listen - watch the video about Tekla!

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