Deaf Dog Proves Victorious as an Agility Champion

Morgan Sterling
by Morgan Sterling
We love it when a dog proves everyone wrong. Once deemed “Untrainable,” this skilled pup has won a coveted champion agility title.

Seven the rescue dog is many things: beautiful, skilled, agile, and hearing impaired. With her piercing blue eyes and lovable smile, Seven steals hearts almost as often as she snags agility titles. Dumped by past owners who feared her disability would make her rowdy and untrainable, Seven found a new home with handler and mum Adina MacRae. MacRae took one look at Seven and knew that rescuing her would be one of the most rewarding experiences of her life- it was love at first sight.

MacRae dedicated her time and love into training sessions with Seven, working on a number of difficult agility skills that a dog must learn in order to compete in the area. Tunnels must be ventured into, bars jumped over, and see-saws climbed. This is tricky enough for a hearing dog to learn, and they have the advantage of hearing lost distance orders. MacRae uses hand signals, much like American Sign Language, to convey her message to Seven. Dogs are capable of being in tune with body language as it is how they communicate with each other in the wild, making this system ideal for training.

Seven picked up her signature “thumbs up” reward signal after some practice, soon licking her lips at the sight of it. It turns out that the promise of food motivated Seven to concentrate and learn, and once this was established, the world was her oyster. That was the start of an amazing agility career. “I find that a lot of people can be sceptical about getting a rescue dog to compete with. But give the rescues a chance. They can be great companions as well as great dog sport performance dogs” MacRae stated.

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Earning this prestigious title took seven years (and one day, to be exact) of careful training, competition, and a strong bond between dog and owner. The title is extremely sought after; known as The Agility Trial Champion, it can only be achieved after every other title at the starter has been conquered. Seven is now a qualified master of agility, and no one could be prouder than her handler MacRae who has been with her every step of the way. Seven will most probably retire from competition after winning the title, but her illustrious career is a beacon of hope for other dogs who have been cast aside due to their presumed ability levels.

MacRae feels strongly about showing the world that deaf dogs are just as, if not more, capable of anything a hearing dog can do. MacRae said “we needed to prove that deaf dogs can do it because that’s why she was surrendered — she was ‘too deaf to train.’”

Related: 101 Introduction To Agility Training For Dogs

In the ring, loud noises and cheers that would scare many animals leave Seven unfazed. In fact, Seven’s hearing isn’t the biggest difficulty in her competitive training- she’s very friendly and often prefers to meet people in the ring over doing stunts. However, this problem is an asset to Seven’s therapy animal work. After all, becoming a champion isn’t easy, but overcoming hurdles (both in and out of the ring) has become second nature to Seven and we give her two paws up!

[Source: The Toronto Star]

Morgan Sterling
Morgan Sterling

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