Lifestyle

Future rosy for special needs dog

Gavin and Sally Smith, with sons Martin (blue shirt) and Simon (red shirt), and dog Mya and new family member Ruby Rose (front) enjoying a surf. Photo: supplied
Gavin and Sally Smith, with sons Martin (blue shirt) and Simon (red shirt), and dog Mya and new family member Ruby Rose (front) enjoying a surf. Photo: supplied

BORN deaf and blind in one eye, Red Kelpie Ruby Rose's future looked bleak when she was surrendered to the RSPCA's Tweed Heads Adoption Centre last year.

Instead her new owners are not only embracing her special needs - they are teaching her to surf.

Ruby's eye was removed by the centre because of a medical condition.

And a University of Queensland hearing specialist confirmed she was completely deaf because of damaged nerves between her ear and brain.

Regardless, Gavin and Sally Smith fell in love with Ruby Rose when they saw her on the RSPCA Adopt a Pet website.

Mrs Smith said she had a feeling about Ruby and thought she was lucky to have made it so far, given her special needs.

"We just knew she was right for us and she has settled in perfectly with our two children and older Border Collie cross Kelpie, Mia."

The Smiths want Ruby to be an example of how positive an experience adopting a disabled pet can be.

"People are surprised that we knew Ruby Rose was deaf and blind when we adopted her.

"She is a very happy and extremely loyal dog.

"We just did lots of research and it helped that we had experience with breeding dogs.

"You can't be a lazy dog owner," she said.

Adoption Centre staff and Ruby had some help learning hand signals from experienced deaf dog trainer, Robyn Adair.

The Smith family also had to learn to communicate with Ruby Rose through hand signals.

They speak to her so she can learn to read facial expressions and use lights to get her attention in the dark.

Ruby Rose even became a learning tool with the Smith's two sons when she was taken to school to teach four-year-olds about bullying and being different.

"Ruby Rose did a great job," Mrs Smith said.

"All the kids were giving her thumbs up (a good dog sign).

"The children were fascinated with her and loved learning about her special needs."

Ruby Rose enjoys a lot of normal dog activities including sleeping, going for long runs with friends and other dogs, playing frisbee and has enjoyed starting surfing lessons.

"She went for her first surfboard ride last month - I think she is a natural," Mrs Smith said.

Topics:  dog, kelpie, rspca


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