Deaf sheepdog forced to retire learns sign language to return to work tending flocks


She can’t hear, but now she can herd again…

A sheepdog forced to retire when she went deaf is back tending flocks after learning sign language.

Border collie Peggy was given to the RSPCA when her handler could no longer communicate with her through the traditional whistles and commands.

But animal welfare manager Chloe Shorten, 28, was determined to help the nine-year-old return to work.

So Chloe and her shepherd husband Jason, 34, translated commands such as “come-bye” and “steady” into body language and hand signals.

With the help of a sheepdog trainer and their two working dogs Sid and Nora, they taught her to respond to signals such as thumbs-up for “good girl” and a flat outstretched palm for “stop”.

Chloe said: “We completely fell in love with Peggy.

“We knew she wanted to be working so we started the long process of teaching her how to herd and work with a shepherd without relying on voice commands.

“It’s amazing to see her with this new lease of life. She’s proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

It is not known why Peggy lost her hearing as there are no obvious lumps or signs of infection in her ears.

Chloe, who works at the RSPCA’s Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk branch, added: “She’s still learning and improving all the time.

“It can be difficult with a deaf dog, because you have to wave at them to get their attention, and sometimes she doesn’t realise straight away.

“But she’s such a happy little dog. She absolutely loves running around so we have a GPS tracker on her collar just in case we get separated and she couldn’t see us, as she can’t hear us calling her.”