Ruby Rose was surrendered to the RSPCA Tweed Heads Adoption Centre in August 2011. The Centre was informed that she was deaf and born with an eye condition that required it to be removed. A hearing specialist at the University of Queensland confirmed that Ruby Rose is completely deaf from congenital deafness and has damaged nerves between her ear and brain.
Despite her disabilities, Gavin and Sally Smith fell in love with Ruby Rose when they saw her on the RSPCA Adopt a Pet website and could not resist adopting her in October 2011. Mrs Smith said that they had a feeling about Ruby Rose and thought she was lucky to have made it this far given her special needs. “We just knew she was right for us and she has settled in perfectly with the two children and our older Border Collie cross Kelpie, Mia,” said Mrs Smith.
The Smiths do not want other people to be put off by adopting a pet with disabilities from the RSPCA.She said, “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 working breed dogs. You can’t be a lazy dog owner.”
The RSPCA Adoption Centre staff and Ruby Rose 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 has even become a learning tool with the Smith’s two sons and was brought into the school to teach 4-year-olds about bullying and being different. “Ruby Rose did a great job! 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,” said Mrs Smith. Ruby Rose enjoys a lot of normal dog activities including sleeping, going for long runs with friends and other dogs, playing frisbee and she has even started surfing lessons. “She went for her first surfboard ride last month - I think she is a natural!” said the very proud Mrs Smith. The Smiths feel they have helped saved an animal’s life and gained a great companion for their family.