Cottage Grove sentinel. (Cottage Grove, Or.) 1909-current, January 27, 2017, Page 7A, Image 7

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Deaf dog + sign language = success
Gina’s dog-rescue friend emailed her a picture of a deaf Aussie
and Gina, who had never been around a deaf dog, was intrigued to
meet him.
When her friend drove up with the beautiful white dog, sitting
in the passenger seat, he out fl ew out in a wild white blur like an
excited kid home from summer camp, it was a magical moment for
them both! Almost!
Gina was so busy watching the white streak that she did not
hear her friend quietly empty all his “stuff” out of her vehicle and
prepare to leave. In a panic, Gina asked, “Where are you going?”
and her friend prophesied, “Keep him a few days. You’ll fall in love
with him.”
Like a young Helen Keller, Riley had no training and did not
know how to be a “good dog’’, so a determined Gina enrolled him
into a dog obedience sign language course.
Riley was so bright, so eager to learn and to please, that he
learned all the basic communication skills in three days!
Pet deafness is not always easily recognizable. Many pet parents
assume that their pet is misbehaving, so they punish the confused
animal. This leads to fear and aggression with many of the pets
ending up in a shelter, just like Riley had - Gina’s home was his
third home.
“When he arrived,” confesses Gina, “I was afraid of his aggres-
siveness. Once we could ‘talk’ to each other, we were both thrilled
to understand and be understood. He was a totally different dog! He
shined with happiness, just like Helen Keller had when she learned
to communicate. I was told that it would take three years for him
not to run away, as he had his fi rst homes, but his people probably
assumed that he was disobedient. They did not understand that he
was deaf. No matter how loud they called, he could never hear their
command to, ‘Come back’!
Today, when I make the sign for ‘ball’, Riley retrieves it. I am
as thrilled as he is that we can communicate. He is an awesome re-
triever, which contrasts with our Labrador Retriever, Connor, who
doesn’t retrieve at all!”
Gina has also created unique signs to indicate her dog’s differ-
ent toys and time to go to bed. Because she has always paid close
attention to her dogs, she has even created a telepathic bond with
him. So, Riley watches her body language, signing, and listens with
his heart.
“We are so close,” said Gina, “he is always by my side and I of-
ten forget that he can’t hear. It is fascinating and a challenge having
both a hearing dog and a deaf dog, because I have to remember to
And inquiring minds want to know, “Is Riley friendly with other
"Dogs have their own body language,” explained Gina, “so his
lack of hearing does not interfere and he loves playing and greeting
Today, he enjoys sitting in her vehicle’s passenger seat passion-
ately barking at the cows. Once barked out, he lays his head on her
lap. “He occasionally suffers from car sickness,” said Gina, “so we
are using a homeopathic remedy for car sickness.”
Riley’s love for learning and play pointed them directly into agil-
ity classes.
“We have so much fun,” said Gina. “But when the goofball tires
of running the course, he fl atly refuses to look at me! He knows that
he has to see my hands to obey commands, and ‘his game’ means
that I can’t ask him to do anything. It is so funny, because we both
know what he is doing!
It must be terrible for a dog to not hear and because Riley is also
sight impaired, he is afraid of the dark, so we keep a night light on
for him.”
Gina’s friend was right!
“I love Riley to the moon and back,” admits Gina.
Teach both hearing and deaf dogs sign language! Find classes
in American Sign Language (ASL) on the internet, library books,
and many dog trainers know obedience signs. Signs work wonders
when a dog is out of voice range.
Try this sign out with your pets. SIT: Place your arm down at
your side and bring your hand up to your shoulder - the bend means
sit. With your hand at your shoulder, face your palm towards the
fl oor and bring your hand down - that means down.
“I cannot call Riley,” said Gina, “so I initially only walked him
on a leash. When he indicated, with his eyes, that he wanted to
be ‘free’ - I let him off-leash. Then, I stay in that location until he
returns to me.
Many merle colored dogs are bred for the best and most color.
This includes eye color, and many Australian Shepherds are prized
for their blue and green or a combination of both. Breeding merle to
merle creates beautiful-colorful dogs, but sometimes they produce
a white dog who is typically blind and/or deaf. For this reason, I
support rescue shelters who save double-merle bred dogs and am
passionate about the Amazing Aussie Lethal White Rescue’s work
in Phoenix, Arizona.”
Share your pet tips and tales.
“Follow” Pet Tips ‘n’ Tales on Facebook.
Local breeder headed back to Westminster
Charlene Sayles recently ran into an old friend. When she men-
tioned it had been a long time since their last meeting, she barely
got the words out before he asked her about her dogs.
“I’m known as the dog lady, I guess. People see me and they
think dogs,” she said.
Sayles has no qualms about her nickname. In part, because it’s
She’s the owner of 2012 Westminster best of breed winner
Gus, a Swedish Vallhund; a breed Sayles describes as a bigger,
more playful Corgi. Gus’ win earned Sayles notoriety and added
to her “dog lady” status and now fi ve years later, Westminster is
calling again.
“We had a litter of nine puppies and Annie ended up in New
Jersey and she is going to Westminster,” Sayles said. Annie, an
18-month-old Vallhund was sired by Gus and has already earned
her championship. She’ll compete at Westminster for best of
breed in February.
“She won best of breed at the National Dog Show which is
on TV,” Sayles said; an honor that is quite a feat for a female
dog. According to Sayles, female dogs are often overlooked for
championship titles.
“Some old-school judges think males contribute more to the
breed so they overlook the females. There’s a saying that if you
show female dogs you end up with a collection of red and white
ribbons because the males win,” Sayles said.
Annie, or “Akutchi if you could see me now at Kanouse CGC”
according to her registered name, will be up against four other Vall-
hunds at Westminster. If she wins best in breed, she’ll be featured
on the show’s broadcast and start a radio show tour shortly after
her win.
If she does win, Annie will do her victory lap in her home state
of New Jersey but her father is still making a splash here in
Cottage Grove.
Gus is a registered therapy dog and volunteers in the com-
munity with programs such as Reading with Rover.
While Gus started with the program in Cottage Grove, he's
taking a break from the action while Sayles focuses on going
back to work full-time and working with Annie's litter mate,
Cooper, who like Annie, was named according to the theme of
the litter: everything number one. Cooper is named after the
number one comedy "The Big Bang Theory" and Annie gets
her moniker from the chart topping song.
“This litter that Annie was a part of had nine puppies,”
Sayles said, noting that three of the puppies were sent to
homes in California, two are in Eugene and Sayles still has
three. One of those dogs, though, is on his way to France to
settle in with his new show family.
“I wanted these puppies to contribute to the breed,” Sayles
said. “I wanted this litter to disperse and do its thing.”
The Westminster Dog Show will be held in New York City
in mid-February. If Annie captures best of show, she will
make her way to Madison Square Garden and be featured on
the live broadcast.
Health Services Directory
Counseling & Mental Health
South Lane Mental Health
Serving Cottage Grove Since 1988
• Outpatient Counseling for Children, Adults & Couples
• Psychiatric Medication Management
• Crisis Assistance
541-942-2850 • 541-942-3939 •
Dental Health
Douglas G. Maddess, DMD
Preventive and Cosmetic
Family Dentistry
New Patients
1551 E. Main St.
Dr. Bitner D.D.S., P.C.
Oregon Hearing Aid Consultant
Preventive and
Family Dentistry
The Most Natural Veneer
1498 E. Main St.
Next to Safeway in Cottage Grove
914 South 4th St. • Cottage Grove • 942-1559
Dr. Shane Parsons
605 Jefferson Ave.
Cottage Grove
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm
Emergency appts. available daily
New patients welcome
2 Hygienists available • Same friendly and caring staff
Please call for an appointment at 541-942-9171
350 Washington Ave • Cottage Grove
Hearing Center
Jenna Buetow
New Patients Welcome
Jonathan E. Backer, D.D.S.
Dental Health
(behind International Fitness)
Benjamin R. Thornton, D.D.S., M.S.
Park W. McClung, DDS & Tammy L. McClung, DDS
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148 Gateway Blvd
Cottage Grove, OR 97424
OPEN at 9am Mon. - Sat. • Convenient Walk-Up Window
100 Gateway Blvd. • 942-9107
1325 Birch Avenue, Cottage Grove
BI-MART Pharmacy
Sedation Dentistry is a Dream come True... find out if its for You!
• Comprehensive General Dentistry
• Advanced Cosmetic Techniques
• Implants
Medical Equipment
Grove Medical
Medical Equipment
Delaying going to the Dentist?
Hearing Aids For Every Need And Every Budget
Personal Fitness
To list your business
call us 541-942-3325
CG Body Studio
Tanning • Pole Fitness • Yoga • MMA
Hypnosis • Childbirth Education • Gear
• Kid’s Classes • Bariatrics • Supplements
28 S. 6th Street • 541-371-5511