In November of 2022, we adopted our second dog: Clem, a GORGEOUS Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) mix. She had been abandoned and was found running along the highway near La Paz. A wonderful guy took her in, but he already had a solid handful of rescue dogs, and leads on a potential home for her dried up completely when it was discovered that she is totally deaf.
We’re a couple willing to take on (arguably sometimes too many) challenges, so we welcomed the adventure that would be learning to train our first-ever deaf dog. We had an amazing time as a family: D, me, Felix, and Clem as we spent the next few weeks at our Baja property, playing at our beach, camping in nature, and taking long beach walks, before returning to Mexico City.
We realized very quickly that Clem is super smart, athletic, and high energy – a very fun combo for our active fam (especially when we eventually move out to the ranch full time!) but difficult when living in an apartment in the middle of one of the world’s biggest cities.
We found it beyond our pay grade to learn to communicate as effectively as was fair to Clem, and to get her as much exercise as she needs (especially while I was in the midst of an ongoing chronic medical situation requiring multiple surgeries and procedures), so we decided to take on additional support by sending her to residential training.
The main goal was to get Clem (and ourselves) trained in doggie sign language, with someone who had experience training deaf dogs. The secondary purpose was to make sure Clem was getting her exercise in, something I would be unable to provide when recovering from surgery. A tertiary purpose was to socialize Clem thoroughly with other humans and dogs as well, as deaf dogs can sometimes develop behaviors that other dogs don’t like (deaf dogs don’t receive the same warning cues, not being able to hear growls or even barks).
So, we took Clem to Great K9 training in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in mid-May.
Not the most convenient training location from Mexico City, I’ll admit, as it meant flying with Clem underneath the plane (which Felix has done as well and was fine, but it makes me nervous and I feel bad every time).
We chose it because I trusted the owner immensely and had seen his incredible work first hand. A few years ago, my other beloved rescue dog, Felix, spent 3 months with Great K9 after eating countless 200 peso bills (only that denomination), high heeled shoes (that I don’t wear anymore, anyway, to be honest), and terrorizing the neighbors with his endless crying when COVID restrictions had cooled down and I was called back to work in-person. The trainers at Great K9 helped Felix understand the world, and helped me learn to communicate with him better.
As every friend who knew Felix before and after would attest: he returned a happier, better-adjusted version of himself, though still the same super sweet soul (as my vet has confirmed: Felix is the nicest dog you’ll ever meet).
This is what I hoped for Clem.
Unfortunately, the reality ended up much different.