This post is sponsored by Chicken Soup for The Soul Pet Food and the BlogPaws® Pet Influencer Network. I am being compensated for helping create awareness around the Brand and new product launch, but Dog & His Boy only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Chicken Soup for The Soul is not responsible for the content of this article.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hero dogs, what that term means and how a dog becomes one. You see, I recently learned that Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, in their on-going commitment to celebrating the unique relationship between people and their pets, is featuring stories about hero dogs on their television show, “Hidden Heroes”.
While exploring this contest and learning more about the movement that Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food is cheering on, I started to think about my deaf muse Edison and his story- no, our story– and just how much I owe him.
My husband will tell you that the connection between Edison and me is palpable and one that doesn’t fit neatly into words. Our relationship cannot be explained without sharing my personal childhood experiences, for they are so tightly intertwined that one cannot be understood without the context of the other.
You see, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I wrote of my story here. My experiences have left me with deeply rooted trust issues, which I battle everyday.
But this isn’t about me. This is about Edison. This is about a deaf dog who came into my life unexpectedly and changed my path forever. This is about a deaf dog who has helped me heal and in the process became a hero. My hero.
Edison, from the day I met him as a ten-week old puppy, has always possessed an ability to calm any room, no matter the noise or chatter. He has an energy that comforts people and makes them feel at peace in the world and their bodies- warts, demons and all.
I find safety in his soft, warm breath against my body, sleeping the deep, peaceful sleep of a dog who cannot hear the rumble of trucks, schoolchildren laughing and chasing their way home or the neighbor’s dog barking at the postman, marking the hour every day at four.
Perhaps our relationship feels safe because Edison was my first deaf dog, and we were forced to learn to communicate differently with each other- with soft, fluid motions of the hand, undetectable to most people not in the know. It feels like a secret language, one we learned and crafted together, and now, three years on, not speaking seems to be the most natural way of communicating.
Communication like this creates an atmosphere where bonding on the deepest level can occur. Yes, maybe that’s it.
Or maybe it’s that I’ve found safety in telling my secrets to a creature who cannot hear in any conventional sense of that word. All dogs listen, to be sure, but a deaf dog hears you in ways no other dog can- he hears with his heart.
Because of my early experiences, I’ve always gravitated towards the underdog- human, canine or otherwise. And who embodies otherness as frequently as a deaf dog? Heck, most people have never considered that a dog can be deaf, let alone how they might communicate with one.
In my house, however, things are different. Here, deaf dogs are honored. They are respected and valued and provided the training they need to live normal, happy lives. Their deafness is celebrated and their needs- physical, medical and social- are met every single day, to the best of our ability.
It is from this vantage point, inspired by Edison and guided by a desire to help all deaf dogs and their pet parents, that two years ago this very week I started to write this blog. I hoped that by talking about deaf dogs and by sharing my experiences, thoughts and advice, I could raise awareness of them and honor my sweet, healing Edison in the process.
One other way my family honors and celebrates the deaf (and hearing) dogs that grace our lives is by providing natural, wholesome food. In reading about their Hero Dog contest, I learned that Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food has been making dog food for over a decade.
This family-owned company is a firm believer that happiness begins with wellness, and wellness starts with eating food that is fresh, nutritious and made with the purest ingredients. They recently introduced 3 grain-free varieties and one grain-free L.I.D. flavor, each recipe starting with real meat as it’s first ingredient followed by healthy fruits, vegetables and holistically-minded herbs.
Here in the home I’ve created with my husband, deaf dogs are treated as the magical creatures they are- for it was in a ten-week old deaf Pit Bull mix puppy that I discovered a path towards healing.
When I look at my life today- a professional blogger writing about my passion for deaf dogs, a stay-at-home pet parent who has started chasing dreams and catching more than a few- I find it’s frequently me and a deaf dog named Edison, snuggling, napping and resting our heads on each other’s body, at peace in the quiet of a lazy afternoon.
I think many things define a hero dog. Some are dramatic displays of courage, dogs risking their lives to save children from fires or entire families from intruders . Some are survival stories of neglect, abuse or abandonment. Other dogs, like Edison, have quieter stories, ones that do not make the news. I think it is these unsung heroes that Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food wants to shine a light on.
Though Edison is my hero, each of us knows a special dog who has done heroic things. Submit your hero dog story here. You may be invited to tell your story on television or in a book!
For more inspiration, pop on over to the Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food Facebook page.