Deaf dog saved and taught sign language
A deaf dog on the brink of being put down has been saved and is now being taught sign language.
Tin Tin, the English Pointer puppy, now responds to sign language and was a perfect example of how pets could be re-trained and re-homed, said Helen Rabinska, from Taupo's animal rescue organisation CARE.
She said their Taupo organisation's "no kill" policy may well have saved Tin Tin.
"He was born on a farm to be a farm dog, but the owners had no use for him," Rabinska said.
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"They asked for him to be terminated."
Tin Tin was trained to respond to sign language by Rabinska and CARE volunteers.
"Touching my shoulder means 'sit'. Spreading my arms wide means 'come'."
When Rabinska brings her thumb and fingers together, Tin Tin watches attentively for the next command.
"We taught Tin Tin with a vibrating collar. It's the same as clicker-training. When he does the correct behaviour, the collar vibrates and he receives a treat.
"If he's 200 metres away and not watching, we buzz the collar and he'll turn around because he thinks he's done something good."
VetOra vet clinic does discounted health checks for animals that CARE takes on.
Veterinarian Rebekah Newth said there were often a number of options for unwell animals.
"We had an old granddaddy cat come in. Because it was steadily losing weight, the owner thought it was sick. They came in to have it euthanised," she said.
"I had a look – the cat had terrible teeth, which was the problem.
"CARE took him off the owner and the bill for the euthanisation went towards his teeth."
Rabinska said CARE's no-kill policy meant plenty of healthy animals, like Tin Tin, were saved.
"No-kill rescue policies mean that we do not euthanise animals because of a lack of space, or because they have treatable conditions such as mange, ringworm, cataracts or parvo virus," she said.
"We treat and rehabilitate animals, then focus on finding appropriate homes for them all.
"Animals that don't have a viable future or are a danger to the public are euthanised."
Rabinska said CARE has rescued more than 450 animals since beginning 18 months ago. Only five per cent of animals are euthanised.