Dogs are a gift of perfect imperfection. I marvel at the stories of extraordinary dogs who teach us about breaking through boundaries. I am equally moved by the humans who become the conduit for these dogs to share a bigger message. Our social media director “extraordinaire”, Katie Young, called my attention to a beautiful dog (Semi) and her mom (Farrah). Together, they have an important message to share. According to Farrah, “Dogs with disabilities can be just cool as those without handicaps AND a dog who came from a shelter can love and be loved just as much as a dog from a store or breeder”. Semi, a 3 year old deaf boxer, offers up daily antics and overtly showcases her love in ways that bring an instant smile to everyone. I love how they have raised awareness for dogs with disabilities. More importantly, I am reminded that despite our ability to hear, we often don’t listen. Read the story about Semi and then check out how she is making a difference. Tonight when you are with family or friends, take a cue from Semi: Lean in a little closer, look intently in their eyes, smile more, really listen, get engaged, and remember that you are the only one who creates your own limitations.
- How old is Semi? What are some of your favorite personality traits of Semi’s?
Semi turned three years old in May, and has always had a really genuine personality. She knows when she’s being funny, she’s aware and visibly sorry when she does something she’s not supposed to, even when she’s playing rough – she doesn’t want to hurt you. I think my favorite personality trait of Semi’s is how obvious it is that she loves you. She loves you, and she loves you with all of her heart. If she wants to sit on your lap, cuddle, fall asleep with her head on your knee – she will. She can’t sleep soundly because she is constantly waking up to check on you. She has so much love for the people who love her, and you always know it.
- We read that you adopted Semi from the Inland Valley Humane Society in 2012, what drew you to her?
What initially caught my attention, was the fact Semi was separated from all of the other younger puppies who were in a run. She was alone in a smaller kennel directly across from a dog run with about 5 young dogs in it. Semi had her nose squished between two of the bars and was stomping her foot and motioning a bark, but not making any noise. They told me she was deaf and as soon as I realized she was mimicking the barking puppies across from her, I couldn’t get enough. I thought she was the funniest little thing.
- Could you please describe the process you went through to prepare yourself in adopting a hearing impaired dog?
To be honest, there wasn’t too much of a preparation. Ten minutes after seeing her I filled out the adoption papers, she was spayed that evening, and I was able to pick her up the next afternoon. I did little research and we spent the first couple weeks she was home establishing our own hand signals and creating routine.
- What are the primary ways you communicate with Semi?
I primarily communicate with Semi using hand signals. Along with hand gestures, Semi is able to read body language and facial expressions really well. Semi communicates back usually with her body language and her eyes. She also knows to put her paw out when she wants something or to show she is apologizing when she does something she isn’t supposed to.
- Can you tell us a little about some of the things you have been doing to raise awareness for dogs with disabilities?
I’ve always posted pictures of Semi (and her really long tongue) because they made me laugh and I wanted to share that with anyone else who needed a smile. It slowly caught more and more attention of people, and it just felt like the right thing to do to incorporate a positive message with Semi, her crazy tongue, her goofiness, and our relationship. A couple articles were written about her, and many pictures were shared – and I just didn’t want Semi to come across as a “freak show”, or just simply an animal who did or didn’t go viral. If she was going to keep grabbing attention like she was, I wanted it to come with some sort of message. Dogs with disabilities can be just as cool as dogs who can hear. A dog who came from a shelter can love and be loved just as much as a dog who came from a store or a breeder. We make sure to bring awareness to those concepts by answering any questions we receive, granting permission to anyone who asks to write about us or share our story or pictures, and have done and been involved with a couple promotions, as well as a Bakdrop sock campaign selling socks with Semi’s face on them – using them to symbolize the support and promotion of rescue animals and dogs with disabilities.
- What are some things that Semi likes to do most? (park, swim, walks, etc.)
Semi loves to swim. When the weather is right you can catch her outside all by herself dropping her toy in the deep end and running to the pool steps to go swim and fetch it. She enjoys walks to the park and going on adventures, as well as laying down in bed cuddling with you, under the blankets with her head on the pillow and all.
- What would you tell other people to encourage them to adopt shelter animals and animals with disabilities?
Semi has given me so much love and happiness, and has taught me so much. She came from a shelter, and she is completely deaf. I want her to be proof, and to remind anyone that comes across her, that the adoptable animals at the shelter can love you just as much as a puppy you paid thousands of dollars for would. And just because they can’t see or hear, doesn’t mean they can’t behave or be an amazing family member. I just hope everyone who’s looking to add an addition to their home considers all of the dogs in shelters who are waiting to find theirs.