fetch1Well, believe it or not my human momma is teaching me to fetch. Yes, you read correctly. She is teaching a blind and deaf dog to fetch. She says I am really smart and can do just about anything I set my mind to. Now, I know I have my limitations like I can’t just go herd livestock or run through the fields without some help from my sisters or my humans, but just about anything else, I know I can do.

So, let’s talk about fetching. My momma read this great book called Living with Blind Dogs, by Caroline D. Levin RN in which it mentioned some games to stimulate a dog’s mind. So, she decided to modify a game to make me really have to use my brain and my nose to find my favorite squeaky. This is what we do:
Momma takes my favorite squeaky and shows me she has it. Then she takes me to the long hallway in the house. She chooses to use the hallway since it is a confined space and is best suited for me to figure out what she is doing.

So, we start with my favorite squeaky and Momma lets me know she has it. She then puts me on her left side (she is right handed) and runs the squeaky down my right leg twice before placing it just out in front of me. I smell it right away and pounce on it. I sometimes want to have Momma play with me and the squeaky; instead she taps me twice on the nose and opens my mouth to make me drop the squeaky in her hand. Well, what is the fun in that? But, before I realize it she has me on her left side again and is running the squeaky down my right leg and putting it just out of reach in front of me.

Lots of praise, hugs and kisses are the reward I receive for getting the squeaky and bringing it back to Momma. She decided not to use treats as a reward for ‘Fetch’ since this game is based on smell, and the treats might distract me.

Learning how to ‘give’ has been a challenge for me. I now know my momma will throw or roll the squeaky so I can go get it again, but sometimes I still like to keep the squeaky all to myself (since I can’t see my sneaky sister Sombra coming to steal it).

Longer rolls or throws were the objectives of the game for the first few days. My momma would start each game of fetch with just a short throw so I would know what we were doing. Then she would go farther down the hall each time. Sometimes it takes me a while to find the squeaky, but I don’t give up. Sometimes she throws/rolls the squeaky so it goes a little ways into one of the doors in the hallway. This is always a challenge, but I usually find it. Every once and while Momma has to help me find it, and then I am really happy because she is the one fetching.

This week my Momma said she is going to move the game outside to the grassy part of the yard. I think I will be able to find the squeaky out there too. She will just have to show me where the boundaries of the game are.

If you have a bind and deaf dog or a dog with just one of these special needs you might want to try to teach them to fetch. Some dogs may learn easier and quicker than others, but don’t give up, because it will be so beneficial to brain development and the bonding that occurs between the two of you.

Good luck, and may you have many good games of fetch in your lifetime.