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Bear, The Pit Bull Mix

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FRONT Ben & Skylar BACK Bear & Winston.

“I was inspired by all of the wonderful pit bulls that Ben and I have personally come to know and, after being around them, Ben was absolutely smitten with the playful personalities and blocky heads.” 

Skylar Wells loves her goofy, fun-loving pit bull and boxer mix, Bear, who is almost two years old. He’s deaf, but his ears still move around actively like he’s listening for something. This doesn’t go unnoticed. 

“Bear’s beaming personality makes him a popular pup at the local vet,” she says. “Anytime he meets someone new, there’s sure to be a comment regarding ‘those ears!’”

Skylar and her partner Ben closed on their first home in April of last year and, within the first few weeks of home ownership, received a call from Adopt A Pit Rescue.

“Ben had been actively applying to several rescues in the hopes that we could find the perfect addition to our family and, after months of searching, we finally received a match,” she says. 

That match was Bear, who was then six months old and in need of a forever home. They went to meet Bear, introduced him to their orange Pomeranian Winston, and realized they wanted Bear to be a part of the family. 

In her senior year of college, Skylar did a capstone project that required a deep dive into researching the pit bull breed. She discovered that, oftentimes, requirements for the breed were not being met by families because they weren’t educating themselves prior to adoption. This education is vital and, when properly trained, pit bulls are friendly, lovable dogs.  

“I was inspired by all of the wonderful pit bulls that Ben and I have personally come to know and, after being around them, Ben was absolutely smitten with the playful personalities and blocky heads.” 

What she learned through her capstone project reaffirmed her love for pit bulls. 

We spoke with Skylar about what it’s like raising a dog whose breed is often misunderstood, and what it’s like to take care of a deaf dog. 

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Dog Whisperer: What are some special pit bull traits?

Skylar: Pit bulls and boxers both possess high energy levels, paired with a high demand for affection and socialization. Additionally, both breeds tend to be quite trainable. They have a strong desire to please.

DW: What special measures do you take when raising a deaf dog?

S: To most people’s surprise, the day-to-day of owning a deaf dog — once you get into the groove of things — really isn’t all that different from raising any other dog. The biggest difference is that we used a vibration collar. This trains Bear to react to the vibrations by returning to us, which helps us keep him safe when he’s gone too far away or is out of sight. It’s our way of “calling” him back.

Other than that, it’s really just about being mindful and patient with him. We use hand signals to ask him to do certain things. We give him commands like “no,” “good boy,” “sit,” “come,” “stay,” “release / let go,” and ask if he’s hungry. Additionally, we ensure that we educate people before letting them interact with Bear. We always let them know that he’s deaf, and encourage them to remain visible, so they don’t approach him from behind and scare him.  

DW: What is your advice to someone who is considering adopting a dog that is deaf?

S: Do a good amount of research before you commit to getting a deaf dog. Make sure you are positive you want to take on the added level of responsibility, on top of the already significant responsibility of owning a dog. Think about the dog’s wellbeing. If you don’t have time to dedicate to the dog, let him or her go to someone who does.

If you’re educated, patient, want to understand how to communicate with your dog, and have the time necessary to build a strong bond with the pup, you’re ready for a deaf dog.

DW: What are Bear’s favorite activities?

S: There’s no debate: Bear’s absolute favorite activity is eating. Breakfast and dinner are his two favorite parts of each day. When it’s time to be fed, he’ll let you know either with a couple of eager grunts or he’ll climb entirely in your lap after pacing around his bowl! Some of his favorite snacks include ice cubes, peanut butter and the occasional dog treat.

His other favorite activities include chasing a laser pointer with Winston, playing tug-of-war with Ben, taking naps on the couch with me and taking long off leash walks through our local nature trails.

DW: Does Bear have any best friends?

S: Bear’s best friend is Ben, but Winston is a close second. Bear also spends a lot of time with his cousin, Binx the Shnoodle, and his neighbor, Koda the Goldendoodle.

DW; What are some fun facts about your pup:

S: Bear can chase his tail in a circle infinitely without giving up or getting tired. Usually he stops only because he’s been distracted.

Bear absolutely LOVES watching television. If a character is moving aggressively towards the screen, he’ll even flinch as if it’s going to burst through the TV and get him. His current favorites are squirrel footage on YouTube and Game of Thrones. The dragon scenes really excite him.

Learn more about raising a deaf dog here.

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