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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snowy was handed in to an animal charity because her owners could not cope with having a deaf dog.

However, within just three weeks of training, the four-month-old Jack Russell can sit, stay and walk, by responding to hand gestures.

The pet has learned a vocabulary of different commands including, sit, stop, lie down, roll over, come back and walk on.

Staff at the Dogs Trust Salisbury in Newton Tony, Wilts, hope that they will now be able to find Snowy a home because of her newly-acquired obedience.

Her trainer, Leslie Carley, described Snowy as "the brightest spark" among the animals at the centre.

Mrs Carley, a support relations officer, said: "Snowy is very bright and learned remarkably quickly, so she's picked up half a dozen commands already.

"When she first came in she didn't have a clue what was going on and would chase around causing trouble.

"But she has these amazing big soft eyes that notice every movement and function better without hearing so she's picked up the sign language amazingly quickly.

"It's incredibly that she's only four months old - but I suppose it's easy to teach a young dog new tricks."

The 3kg puppy was born into a litter of six and then sold to new owners who gave her back when they realised she was deaf.

She became shy and withdrawn after being passed from home to home and ignored by her brothers and sisters in the litter and was eventually taken to the charity.

She is expected to learn several more commands in the coming weeks which will give her a full vocabulary of dog terms.

Snowy's sign language:

Sit - move hand from side and bring it up towards chin

Good girl - thumbs up and smile

Stop - Extend arm forwards and show palm of hand

Down - Point to the floor then flatten hand and move downwards parallel to the ground

Come back - wave hands in the air to get attention then crouch down and pat legs

Roll - lie down then bring hand over head and round shoulder

Walk - rotate fists

Greet - hold out hand palm facing up

Naughty - point finger at dog

Food - move fingers to mouth and pout

Relax and be quiet - put index finger to lips

Go to the loo - walk fingers towards the garden


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