Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

A deaf dog with a “zest for life” is learning sign language at an RSPCA animal centre near Swansea.

The talented senior Staffie is a “wonderful example of just how resilient animals can be” and “proof that you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks”.

Eight-year-old Rocco is able to read hand signals and body language, and he understands basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay’, despite being completely deaf.

The “extremely friendly and lovable” dog is looking for a special new home with a secure garden and lots of company after his previous owner passed away.

The senior Staffie can read hand signals and body language and understands basic commands
(Image: RSPCA)

Staffordshire bull terrier Rocco first arrived at the charity’s Llys Nini Animal Centre in Penllergaer in February 2020, after he was brought in by an RSPCA inspector following concerns for his welfare.

Underweight and thought to be partially deaf at the time, the friendly food-loving Staffie was soon in much better health and went on to be adopted.

Kennel team leader, Sally Humphries, said: “His new owners were really lovely and Rocco took to them straight away.

“I remember laughing at the fact he didn’t want to come and say goodbye to me when I dropped him off; he stayed by their side like he’d known them all his life.”

Unfortunately, Rocco found himself back at Llys Nini in July last year, after one of his owners sadly died and the other had serious health issues.

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“We were incredibly sad when we found out what had happened and poor Rocco then came back into our care,” Sally continued.

“As a result of an ear infection, he’s now completely deaf, so we’ve spent the last few months teaching him special sign language which he’s really taken to.

“He reads our hand signals and body language as a way of telling what we’re asking for. For example, thumbs up means ‘good boy’.

“Most dogs are more in tune with our body language than our constant chitter chatter so it’s not that tricky for a deaf dog to learn; it’s all about consistency and making sure you choose a simple sign for each behaviour that you are trying to teach, so it’s as clear as possible for them to understand.”

Friendly and lovable Rocco is now looking for a new home and ‘will make an excellent companion’
(Image: RSPCA)

Rocco also understands basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay’ and is learning new things all the …….


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