Video: Deaf dog Ruby learns sign language

EVERYDAY is a new challenge for three-year-old deaf dog Ruby.

EVERYDAY is a new challenge for three-year-old deaf dog Ruby.

The cute boxer-cross-bulldog has not been able to hear since she was born and, as a result, has struggled throughout her life to properly relate to other dogs and humans.

However, thanks to some intensive sign language sessions by Sam Boast, her carer at the Martlesham RSPCA branch, she is learning to enjoy life and is looking for a loving home.

Kieron Adams, manager of RSPCA Suffolk East and Ipswich, said: “Ruby finds it difficult to read signs from other dogs as she can't hear them growling so does not know when to back off.

“If she is playing with people and not looking at them, she doesn't know when to stop and this can be hard to handle. She cannot hear any directions and can really struggle.”

But Ruby has now learned that thumbs up means 'good girl', thumbs down means 'bad girl' and a finger wagging side to side indicates 'no'.

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A torch is also used and she has come to regard flicks of the light in the same way that dogs with good hearing respond to clicking fingers.

Her condition proved to be too much for her previous owner and she ended up being brought to the animal centre in Mill Lane five months ago. She was briefly homed in that time but failed to settle and is now back at the centre - and looking for a new owner.

Staff say she is not suitable for a first time owner and needs someone who has the time and dedication to continue teaching her sign language.

Miss Adams added: “Whoever gives her a home has to be really dedicated as she needs lots of time to learn the signals.

“Her new owner would have to have a lot of understanding as well. If someone has got the time to train her, it would be great as she is absolutely lovely and would make a wonderful pet.”

If you want to give Ruby or other dogs like her a home, call the centre on 01473 623280 or visit their website at

Do you have a good tale to tell about your pet? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Hand signals are the primary form of communicating but facial expressions and body language will also play a large part. When a dog has done something you have 'asked' of it, people are encouraged to smile.

Dogs should never be physically reprimanded. Hands are something your dog should trust, not be afraid of.

One of the first things you must do is find something to get and keep your dog's attention. This may be a favourite toy or food treat.

A dog should be taught to look to you for guidance and instruction.

If there is another dog in the family, the bond between you and your deaf dog must be stronger than the bond between the deaf dog and the other dog. This is so the deaf dog does what you want it to do rather than copying the hearing dog.