Abandoned Deaf Puppy Finds Forever Home, Learns Sign Language

Unwanted and abandoned at a shelter when he was just eight weeks old, deaf boxer puppy Nitro is loving life in his new home, and is making big waves in his community as he and his new owner demonstrate the remarkable potential of deaf dogs.

Unwanted and abandoned at a shelter when he was just eight weeks old, deaf boxer puppy Nitro is loving life in his new home, and is making big waves in his community as he and his new owner demonstrate the remarkable potential of deaf dogs.

The eight month old pure bred pup is learning American Sign Language, and has mastered commands for for sit, stay, down, turn-around and shake, among others. His owner, Christina Lee, is also taking a crash course in ASL in order to communicate more effectively with Nitro. Judging by their mutual successes, it’s working wonders.

Allow me to pause and admit to a personal bias. We rescued a deaf puppy many years ago, and he was an amazing soul. Living with a deaf dog is different, in that verbal communication is supplanted by sign and body language. The first and best thing you can train a deaf dog is to stay focused on you so that you may issue commands in sign language, and there is a closeness that comes from the training process with a deaf dog that’s hard to describe. They are truly special.

Deaf or not, a puppy is a puppy. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I happened upon a local news report about Nitro I couldn’t wait to find out more about him. I wanted to bring his story to a larger audience, to tell anyone who would listen what great pets deaf dogs make. Something about Christina Lee had sounded familiar to me as I watched a video of she and Nitro working together, but I couldn’t quite figure out why. Then, as I was working on a draft for an article a new e-mail landed in my inbox, and I could not have been more pleasantly surprised.

To: “Life With Dogs”
Date: Thursday, April 7, 2011, 6:17 PM

Hi Life With Dogs Team,

I want to thank you for hosting the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop each week. Lexi and I enjoy sharing all the fun we have together. This week our local news station did a news story on my deaf white boxer puppy Nitro. He just turned 8 months old and he is a level 4 in training even though he is deaf. I have studied all of his commands on aslpro.com which helps me use ASL signs to teach him commands. Our news station did a great job capturing his spirit. I hope you enjoy their video.

Thanks again,

Christina Lee

It’s a small world. Of course Christina’s name was familiar – we’ve been connected in blogging circles for some time now! In my haste to collect details and assemble a post about Nitro my powers of observation were compromised. The good news is that you won’t have to rely on my fuzzy memory for future updates about Nitro, because now you can follow his exploits on The World According to Lexi, Christina’s blog. In a phone conversation last evening Christina joked that she may have to change her blog name because it’s turning into the Nitro show, but something tells me Lexi doesn’t mind letting him hog the spotlight a little.ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok, I’ve rambled long enough, let’s get a closer look at this beautiful boy and the story that I couldn’t wait to share.

Lee plans to train Nitro to work as a therapy dog. She says he’s definitely smart enough, and given his smarts and sweet disposition, it’s hard to imagine a better candidate. “He’s funny. He’s really funny,” Lee said. “He has a lot of personality, so it’s a shame somebody didn’t see it.”

Christina, the right person saw it. Thank you for giving him a loving, forever home. Now could you hurry up and post another Nitro update? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Life With Dogs post end paw print

50 thoughts on “Abandoned Deaf Puppy Finds Forever Home, Learns Sign Language


  2. What a terrific story. & just minutes before I read a story about a sweet 1.5 yr old deaf girl who has literally grown up behind bars. She was dumped there as a puppy in Feb. 2010. Her name is Babs. & she’s desperately seeking a family to show her what love is. I’m passing this story along to those who care for her in hopes they can show what a wonderful companion a deaf dog can be & the possibilities of sign language! Thank you for this.

    1. TO, I sent Babs story to Neil with Life Of Dogs last night after I got off the phone with him. Since Babs is in upstate NY I was hoping he might now someone who could help her. She looks like a cross between Oogy and Nitro. I hope someone see this story and gives Babs a new home.
      According to my dog Nitro, Babs will be forever greatful!

      Christina Lee and Nitro Lee

  3. Re. James :true! I had a cocker spaniel yrs ago that responded to hand signals…the wonderful thing about this story is the commitment Nitro’s owner, Lee, has given him. All dogs should have such homes! (and Nitro is cuter than cute)

  4. What a fabulous team!

    It just warms my heart to know that Christina gave Nitro a loving and supportive home where he could flourish to become the wonderful and clever and apparently comedic canine he was meant to be.

    My secret prayer is for all dogs to be given the chance to do the same!

  5. I would bet anything that the person that bred Nitro is still at it, even though there’s a chance for more deaf pups. When they can’t sell them, they dump or kill the pups. They are the types that need to be targeted along with the big puppy mills. Puppies like Nitro are wonderful animals, but are rarely given a chance to shine.

    1. 8 wks is a typical age for deafies to be dumped since this is when the breeders BAER test for deafness. They don’t want any paper trails leading to a deaf dog, so they just dump them out like a piece of garbage. One of mine was frozen, starving and left on the highway at 8 wks old. I tracked down the breeder who advertises they’ve never had a deaf Dalmatian in their 10 yrs of breeding.
      I have to say that alot of breeders are now adopting out their deaf ones to the increasing number of people who specifically want deaf dogs. Dogs like Nitro help promote all deaf dogs and what they can do if given a chance. Its something I’ve been waiting for.

      1. When are we going to realize that everything has value in it’s own special way and that nothing in nature is perfect! Even the most conscientious breeders can occasionally produce puppies with health issues. It is how they choose to learn from these litters while placing these pups in special homes that separates irresponsible breeders from great breeders.

  6. I have a deaf dog… and I highly recommend to anyone looking at dogs, do not shy away from adopting one. They have a few challenges, but make loving and loyal pets. They are special for a reason.

  7. I love happy stories. This is so encouraging! We train our dogs with both verbal and sign, just in case they lose their hearing in their elder years. Christina’s dedication to Nitro is a wonderful thing.

  8. What a gorgeous boy- i actually thought the 1st pic was of an animation because of his amazing eyes and character filled face! For those comparing him learning sigh language to a hearing dog learning hand signals, yes it is similar but don’t forget hearing dogs have the advantage of the verbal command alongside the hand signal so i would imagine relying totally on sign is both challenging and extremely bonding for Christina and Nitro. I think he’s adorable.

  9. Great story. Good luck Nitro…you’ll make a great therapy dog! Watching facial expressions and body language, Nitro will know who needs him the most! Good work, Christina

  10. The reporter said “how can you not love that face?” She nailed it, Nitro has the sweetest face and it is obvious he loves his owner and has complete trust in her. Great story.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  11. How wonderful!! Nitro and Christina are very blessed to have found each other! I too have taken in a little deaf dog ( french bulldog), and can’t express the joy he has brought into our lives. It’s great to see other deaf dogs out there with a happy ending! Great job Christina…and Nitro!!!

  12. All I can say is: Dog spelled backward. How special and wonderful is it that Nitro was blessed with having been found by Christina.

  13. SUPER HAPPY BEGINNINGS to a GREAT LIFE for this Wonderful bonded pair. You BOTH Made our Day !! A LONG HAPPY LIFE!!!!!!! {{{Hugzzzzz}}}}
    Blughz ‘n Phantom

  14. A sweet story. It goes to show that dogs respond to so much more than what they hear. I work with a dog that was a rescue and she has aggression issues because of abuse. It’s been about two years now that I have worked with her. Relevant to this story is that she and I often do our entire walk with few verbal commands from me; it is all body language and the way I use the leash. And, of course, the treats in my bag. Smell wins out for this dog!

  15. I have a deaf Boston Terrier. I didn’t know she was deaf when we got her and as soon as we figured it out, I did as much research as I could on how to train her. We got her a hearing puppy friend and taught them both hand signals. The hearing dog taught her a lot. She is now 8 and the best dog you could ever want. I would not shy away from getting another deaf dog. They are special and with just a few adjustments, make great companions.

    1. I watched a deaf dog for a friend..he would respond to hand signals…however when Sharky didn’t want to ‘hear you’ he just wouldn’t make eye contact…smart or what…

  16. I have always used a few hand signals with my dogs, who all hear. Pointing to the ground-sit. Holding my hand out-shake. Folding my arms across my chest-You’ve ticked me off! They get the idea!

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