A Duluth Woman and Her Deaf Dogs Want You to See Them as “Differently Abled,” Not Disabled

Linda Mann is the proud owner of three deaf dogs.

DULUTH, Minn.- A Duluth woman is changing the game when it comes to adopting rescue dogs.

Linda Mann has three dogs. Two of them are double–merles. That’s a type of dog with a predominantly white coat and some abnormalities that make them a bit different from your typical golden retriever, but that’s not all that makes her unique.

Lueka and Oakley are Aussie-Mixes, Elliott is an Australian Cattle dog and Linda Mann isn’t so much a dog–whisperer as she is a dog interpreter.

“My dogs were all born deaf,” Mann said.

She calls herself the deaf dog interpreter. Linda Mann uses sign language to communicate with her pets.

“First sign all of them are taught when they come in my house is the ‘watch me,’ and that’s just showing my eyes and pointing to them, back and forth a few times,” Mann said, gesturing with her words.

Mann adopted Lueka in December 2015.

“Lueka is deaf. She also has slight vision problems,” Mann said.

She fell in love with her deaf dog and soon after adopted Colt, Oakley and Elliott, the trouble maker of the group.

“Elliott was a biter when he came in as a puppy, so he got the nickname of a four–legged piranha,” Mann said.

Sadly, Colt was put down in April 2018 after developing a brain tumor.

“There’s a lot of hearing dogs out there that are fantastic dogs, but then the deaf ones are the same way,” Mann said.

Mann doesn’t think being deaf makes her dogs that different from other dogs.

“People are afraid of getting the deaf dogs because they think it’s going to be a hard dog to train, and they’re actually not.”

They still fight, and play, and love and listen.

“I know a lot of people call them ‘disabled.’ I like to call them ‘differently abled.’ you just have to think differently on how you’re going to work with them,” Mann said.

They truly are Mann’s best friend.

“They make me laugh. But at the same time they can be little pains in the butt. I am in no way saying my dogs are perfect dogs because they in no way are.”

Linda Mann says the deaf dog community in the Twin Ports is growing.

There are many online support groups for people who may feel uncertain about what to do if they do take in a ‘differently abled’ pet.

Those groups are filled with people like Mann, who just wants these loving pets to find a good forever home.

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