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Legend of Deaf Puppy
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There comes a time in a 42 year old single man’s life when he makes the conscious decision to begin hedging his bets with the fairer gender. 2015 ushered in a wave of people whispering in my ear —“You’re not getting any younger Chris.”

I’ve always found the notion that as we get older, it should somehow induce this need to rashly speed up the search for a girlfriend/wife. Self preservation and years of toiling within the dating world leave me with one steadfast truth: “Be careful what you wish for.” That old adage notwithstanding...

 I’m not getting any younger.

What to do? Many at my age dive headlong into the mid-life crisis pool. I see other dudes in my predicament go with the old sports car routine. I refuse to go that route. In my opinion the type of woman easily lured by a shiny Corvette – can just as easily be charmed with a few well placed lies and a trip to the El Rancho Steakhouse in Stockton. Besides, my driving record prohibits using any vehicle as an aphrodisiac.

I’m 42, and for me it’s the perfect age. My dating pool runs deep – from ages 21 – 50 – I’m an equal opportunity swimmer. I knew I needed to hedge my bet with something women of every era love.

The Puppy!

It is almost the perfect weapon in my search for happiness. Everybody loves a puppy, and if they don’t it’s an easy scratch off the list. Ladies: Animal lovers need only apply...and unlike a Corvette, maintenance on a puppy is much more reasonable – or so I thought.

Different arrangements?

 It was April when I found a breeder that had what I wanted. A Queensland Heeler is the only pup a respectable Portuguese farmer can have. I have a 4-year-old male named Charlie. He is as smart and charming as a dog can be – but he is no longer a pup. There is a huge difference in the “attract a woman” department between a puppy and a dog. The puppy screams “Cuteness, Hope, Future, Kindness.” The dog says “I used to be small and cute, but my master still couldn’t find a woman”.

I picked out the one I wanted from a picture on the computer. A red rollie pollie female. (Which was an odd color, since both parents were a traditional blue heeler.) It was a few weeks later that I’d receive the message that will change the next 12 to 16 years of my life.

“I have bad news, your puppy is deaf.”

The breeder was to an extent letting me off the hook, “We understand if you don’t want her, and will make different arrangements. Different arrangements?! That had a nefarious ring to it. I knew the thought of a puppy possibly being put down would eat my conscience alive.

“I’ll take her!”

Oh dear people of Manteca, please don’t confuse me with some type of puppy superhero at this point in the story. My awful brain had already jumped to a scenario, in which deaf puppy and myself are at a dog park. “Oh what a cute little puppy you have” is spoken by a beautiful young jogger. I pause the perfect amount of time as she pets deaf puppy, “Thank you, and she’s deaf.” In my head a loud audible sigh comes from the woman, as she looks at me, and instantly falls in love. This has not happened – yet.

I’m certain at this point some of you reading this are a bit put off by my use of “deaf puppy”, in referencing her name. In truth her name is Banshee. But it didn’t take long to realize one fact in raising a deaf puppy.

 It really doesn’t matter what you call her. She Is Deaf! It’s become one of the funnest parts of owning a deaf animal. I can give her a new name each morning — “Hey Rainbow. Hey Lassie. Hey Steve.”It really doesn’t matter. Or so I thought, until my mother delivered my first “Raising a Deaf Dog” book. Oh no, this is turning into a Corvette, with me having to tinker with the engine, and do some tune up work, in order to have something that doesn’t take a proverbial dump on me.

And speaking of proverbial dumps, the literal form of dump has been appearing in every corner of the house. A puppy in essence is an eating, sleeping and pooping machine. I already have the 42-year-old version of this at home – and can barely take care of “him”.

How do you reprimand

deaf puppy for

pooping in your house?

 You ever try reprimanding a deaf pup after she has pooped in the corner? It’s impossible on all levels. She doesn’t hear a word, and is just too damn cute to rub her nose in it. (Though that changed a few days ago.)  I started to rely heavy on the book mom bought me...It took a lot for me to go the book route. Having grown up with animals, I was positive my existing knowledge would translate to training a deaf pup.

I remember when my other dog Charlie was a pup, and I was attempting to house train him— a frustrating and time consuming chore to say the least.

Many of my friends and family think the task of raising a special needs dog is indeed more than I can handle — that the high maintenance factor of a regular puppy jumps tenfold with the addition of her deafness. Some friends like Lloyd Barbasol even feel the need to give brutal honesty — “You should’ve gone with a goldfish Teicheira, or something that suits your lifestyle – puppies are so hard to flush when they die”

Nobody is flushing this puppy Lloyd!

It took nearly a month to remember that calling or yelling to her does nothing. It seems at this point, I’m the only one being forced to learn a thing. The book recommended repeating hand signals over and over. Treats are the reinforcement trigger in this situation. But Banshee had adopted the take the money and run approach to training. And then it happened. I held my fist in front of me, and she knelt and sat patiently. Taking the treat, and not scampering away.

Baby steps – or puppy steps in this situation.

My other dog

knows her name

 And by the way, she may not know her name, but somebody else does now. Charlie my other dog. And I’ve realized it’s just as important for him to know her name, as it is for her – maybe even more. She fell asleep outside this last week. And my outside is an endless expanse of orchards. I searched the trees with a sickening feeling, certain that a coyote had a meal of her. I had trained myself not to call her name, as it made no sense. But amidst the panic, I abandoned my own training - “Banshee! Banshee!” It triggered something inside Charlie, he’d heard me use this name enough the last few months. He gave me a Lassie-ish bark, and led me back to the house. There she was – lying under a bush, just 10 feet from the front door!

It’s a work in progress at this point. But one with benefits a Corvette could never give. On a recent trip to Target, I pushed my cart around with Banshee riding inside. At one point a Target employee let me know dogs are not allowed in the store. I informed her that Banshee was special needs. It confused the employee enough that I was able to escape and continue on my way.

It was in the shoe department that the trials and tribulations of the past 2 months paid off.

“Oh my gosh, is that the little deaf puppy from Facebook?” — 2 women in their 20s approached, scratching and patting Banshee’s head.

The strange part was I had no clue who these women were. They let me know that their aunt is a Facebook friend of mine, and they’d recently seen the Legend of Banshee. And Yes, I splatter Facebook with puppy pictures. In the words of Lloyd Barbasol— “Always keep a line in the water if you can.”

The encounter was brief, but names and tidings were exchanged. And before I’d even left the store, they’d both sent me Facebook friends requests – one including a private message.

 Banshee here’s a treat. Good girl.

I hope to grow the Legend of Banshee in each column. And remember if you see us around town – we both love treats. and belly scratches.

Random Acts of Humanness by Daphne Briggs: I parked for Coffee Bean Thursday morning, and realized I’d parked like a d**k, and caused the car trying to park behind me some grief. I couldn’t hop back in and correct my parking job, as I had Pagan (daughter) with me.  Of course, the driver was going to Coffee Bean too. What did I do? I could have avoided the driver, but I didn’t. I flagged her down in line and said “Are you driving the Jeep Cherokee?” (She was.) I then said, “I’m the d**k who parked in front of you. I’m sorry about that, but parking isn’t my strong suit. Let me buy your coffee.”

She went from (rightfully so) disgruntled person, to a smiley person.

I hope she ended up having a good day.

“It’s not Where ya do, It’s What ya do.”