Pour some kibble on me: deaf shepherd finds happy home

A deaf dog that was left at the SPCA has found a loving family fluent in sign language.

She can't hear her own bark — but she understands sign language

The new parents of Evie talk say their own skills allowed them to teach their adopted pet basic sign language commands 1:27

When Marisa Nielsen and her fiancé Desmond Kumar first laid their eyes on Evie, a husky-shepherd puppy living at the B.C. SPCA, they could tell right away she was different.

For one, her white, perky ears didn't seem to hear a lick of sound.

"She was asleep," said Nielsen. "It was really funny because it was so noisy — there was thumping going on. They were cleaning. There was dogs barking. There was traffic noises coming from outside, and she was sleeping like she was in the middle of nowhere."

Evie, the husky-shepherd, has one blue and one brown eye, but can see just fine. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Evie was given to the SPCA in East Vancouver by her previous owners, after they found out she was hearing impaired. She was only a few weeks old — and a perfect fit for the future newlyweds.

"We never planned on adopting when we were going into the SPCA," said ​Nielsen. "But when we saw that Evie was deaf ... it seemed like is was meant to be."

Nielsen grew up with deaf parents, who taught her sign language and kept her engaged with the deaf community. With her experience, she knew that she could offer Evie the support she needed — and that her parents would approve of the new family member.

Marisa Nielsen grew up with deaf parents, and once she found out Evie was deaf, knew they were a match made in heaven. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

'Smartest dog I've ever had'

"One of the best things about having her is the connection that she has with my parents and other people who are deaf in the community," said Nielsen, who believes her parents share a special bond with the pup.

"She's quite a star in the deaf community," she said.

Nielsen and Kumar can both speak sign language, and have used it to teach Evie a handful of commands.

Desmond Kumar is Evie's self-proclaimed servant. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"When she first came home, within a week she knew how to sit, stand, stay — and we just started working on [more]" said Kumar, the dog's self-proclaimed servant.

The couple had to work in tandem to teach Evie commands — one holding her head while the other spoke to her in sign. They were amazed by her progress.

"She's the smartest dog I've ever had," said Nielsen.

Evie is not only adored by her owners but by many members of the deaf community. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Doggy dating service

Lorie Chortyk from the B.C. SPCA thinks Nielsen and Kumar have shaken paws with the right pup.

"With our animals, its almost like a dating service," she said "We always try to match up the animals with people that are going to understand their needs."

Chortyk thinks it's a match made in heaven.

"[Evie] just adores them, and they adore her — it's just a wonderful situation," she added.

With files from Rafferty Baker


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