Can you sign ‘good boy’?
Deaf dog saved after hurricane has learned new hand signals while waiting for adoption
In her large Stouffville backyard, Marina Bourguignon holds two thumbs up in front of Scruffy’s face.
A terrier mutt with a very sweet disposition who survived Hurricane Harvey, Scruffy leans in for a cuddle and licks her face.
Found as a stray at a gas station during the September hurricane in Houston, the dog was suffering from a severe ear infection that has left him deaf.
Bourguignon, who is fostering Scruffy until a permanent loving home can be found, is teaching him commands in sign language.
“I’m learning, too, as I go along,” she laughed, adding her furry friend came to her home about three weeks ago due to allergies in his previous foster home.
“He’s a beautiful dog. He’s so loving. I don’t understand why he isn’t adopted yet. There’s nothing wrong with him except that he’s deaf and he just learned sign language. He knows come, he knows sit, he knows lay down, he knows quiet. He learns fast.”
Believed to be about two years old, Scruffy is one of 39 dogs that weathered the hurricane and were retrieved by Toronto-based dog-rescue agency Redemption Paws. They were delivered to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals headquarters near Newmarket on Sept. 11.
In total, Redemption Paws has rescued more than 80 dogs affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Bourguignon, who is also now fostering Jade, born deaf and rescued from Oklahoma, isn’t in a position to adopt Scruffy.
For one, the financial analyst enjoys having her dogs accompany her when she rides horses on forest trails, an activity too dangerous for a deaf dog.
She is also coming to grips with the emotional loss of her own two dogs within weeks of each other this year.
In August, her Australian cattle dog, Aussie, died of old age at 16.
A couple of weeks later, when she heard about dogs that had survived the hurricane needing homes, she contacted Redemption Paws to say she would foster some.
Her second dog, a stray Australian cattle dog named Tank, which she adopted two years ago, helped socialize some of the six hurricane dogs that have passed through her home.
But in October, nine-year-old Tank developed a tumour and died.
Bourguignon is now content with fostering dogs until she feels ready to adopt again.
“They are perfectly good dogs and they need loving homes, too,” she added.
“A lot of them, I think they need to be shown they can be loved, that everything is going to be OK. They’re so innocent, they’re so forgiving.”
As she looks at Scruffy chewing on a dog toy, Bourguignon is hoping he finds a “loving forever home.”
“He looks like Tramp from Lady and the Tramp. He’s so cute,” she said.
“He’s an easygoing boy. There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s very sweet, he’s very loving and all he wants to do is just love you and be loved.”