"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sierra The Deaf Elderbull

We rescued Sierra when she was 4 months old; malnourished, open sores from untreated mange, and a heart the size of Texas. A deaf friend found her but couldn’t keep her and knew that the local shelter would put Sierra down because not only is she a pitbull, she is a deaf pitbull. Sadly, many fear that deaf dogs are not trainable or that they will be fearful biters. Add to that the misperceptions about the pitbull breed and many folks aren’t willing to give these dogs a chance. Want to know what Sierra does if you startle her awake? Before her eyes are even open to see what is going on her tail starts wagging a mile-a-minute at the anticipation of people to love on when she’s up.

The above photo is Sierra enjoying the summer fun in the sun with the Mueller boys.

Sierra, like any deaf dog, relies on eye contact and hand signals. Training this way was an easy transition for me since I’m an ASL interpreter. However, even those who don’t know sign can easily learn to communicate with their dog through eye contact and hand signals. Many trainers I have worked with were initially reluctant to let Sierra in their class. However, all the trainers came to quickly realize that training a deaf dog is really no different than any other dog, they just work with visual cues instead of vocal cues. At the end of one training session our trainer lavished so many ‘awards’ on Sierra that we actually asked him to share them with the rest of the dogs in the class. (Sierra is humble that way.)

The above photo is Sierra with her “pack” The Mueller Family.

Sierra is a cancer survivor that left her a tri-ped when she was six. The Vet projected it would take her a few weeks to learn to walk again.Little did they know the determination and spirit of a pitbull; the day of the surgery the staff took her for her first walk/run around the block. Sierra, being a model patient, is now the Vet’s ‘spokes-dog’ for other dog owners considering amputation.

I can’t count the number of friends and family that were initially terrified of pitbulls that after meeting Sierra are now their biggest advocates. We have a whole neighborhood of kids who are over regularly wanting to walk Sierra, or dog-sit, or just come over for some of her awesome loving and doggie kisses.

Sierra is an elderbull now, 13, but her spirit is as young as ever. She opened our hearts and minds to the pitbull breed and proved, what we already knew: DEAF DOGS ROCK!



  1. Oh wonderful! A deaf senior pit bull tripod! Amazing! Just posted her on facebook.

  2. What a great story! We adopted a deaf pitbull about 5 months ago and she is an absolutely amazing dog! She was at the pound where her prospects were pretty bleak. She came out of her kennel and was frantic for some attention and tlc. We knew in a minute we would be taking her home. Initially our intention was to foster her for a local rescue but her spirit won us over completely. She had been beaten and bred but held no grudge. She was easy to train and has learned a number of hand signals. She lives peacefully with 5 cats, a crotchety old lab and two kids. Like sierra she has become a wonderful ambassador for the breed and gets lots of unbiased loving from all the neighborhood kids!