I love writing this blog. It has allowed me to share my dog adventures, and the interesting people I have had the opportunity to connect with. Like I’ve said before, dogs are wonderful connectors; this is proven to me on a daily basis.
I am amazed at how many dogs have their own Facebook pages. I have discovered countless interesting people who love their dog enough to do this; many have numerous fans that follow their posts and pictures with great enthusiasm. I saw that the Facebook page “My Dog Kiefer” had been “liked” on another Facebook page. I was curious to find out about this dog. My intuition was a gift, as Kiefer is no ordinary dog. I asked his owner if she would be a guest author on this blog and the following is her story.
“Hello, my name is Trisha Malfitano, and I am the author of two children’s books. My first book called My Dog Kiefer was published in 2010. The sequel, titled Kiefer and Friends was published just last month. I travel to schools to read my story and spread a message to children about acceptance.
My Dog Kiefer is a children’s story about my deaf dog, named Kiefer. The first time I read the book to a class, I choose not tell anyone that Kiefer is deaf. My goal is to have the kids try and figure out what makes Kiefer different from other dogs. When we get to the end of the story and everyone finds out he is deaf, people are usually surprised. Most people would have never guess on first meeting Kiefer that he cannot hear. They usually say things like, “He seems so normal.” It is for this reason that I do what I do. Kiefer can do anything a hearing dog can; the only difference is that he listens with his eyes, and that I talk to him with my hands. The two of us are on a mission to educate children and adults alike, about deaf dogs and dogs with other different abilities.
Kiefer and Friends is our second book. In this book, Kiefer introduces the reader to some of his awesome new friends. Some of the dogs in the book have what is considered a “disability,” others are judged harshly by their appearance. Our goal with this book is to educate people that all dogs deserve a chance at a happy life. We then hope our message of acceptance will translate into interactions with other people who are different as well. It is important to us that we teach people not to judge others, dog or human, by the way that they may look, learn, or even get around.
I was inspired to write my first book after adopting Kiefer; at the same time I was working with a young student who has Downs Syndrome. I found that people often assumed that she could not perform well, without even giving her a chance to try. I noticed that the family had to fight for her to have the same education and the same opportunities as other children without similar disabilities.
When Kiefer and I attended our first puppy training class, I was again shocked at the intolerance and ignorance of people. One of the other owners repeatedly referred to Kiefer as being “retarded”; a harsh word to use, even on a dog. Another owner was afraid that their dog would somehow “catch” being deaf because of contact with Kiefer, and I had to try and explain that deafness cannot be “caught.” Despite the fact Kiefer could do all the same things as the other puppies, there remained individuals that believed he should have been put down at birth and not given a chance.
The second book was inspired and written after Kiefer and I started to befriend other dogs who had different abilities. Listening to their stories, I saw how they had to fight for certain privileges as well. I decided that I wanted to educate people about not looking past these dogs, and that they too are worthy of a loving home.
I also adopted an Australian Shepard, named Theresina, who is deaf and partially blind. We too have been met by similar people who do not believe that she is worth the effort. Training her is a new adventure; for others, however, the obstacles that come with having a dog with disabilities outweigh their chance to life. During the puppy training classes, we had one owner who refused to have their puppy in class with us, because of her disabilities.
Kiefer recently passed his Canine Good Citizen Test and is ready for therapy dog class. However, once again, we are having a hard time finding a place to fit in. We have been refused by training facilities simply because he is deaf. There are many places that view deaf dogs as vicious and unworkable.
When Kiefer and I visit schools, I am constantly amazed at how gentle and kind he is around children in particular. He has this special ability to pick out the kids who need him the most. We have also been to two schools for the deaf, and have visited classes with special needs children.
One amazing moment happened with Kiefer was about a year ago. We were working a booth set up for the rescue group I volunteer with, and many people, of all ages, stopped to see if they could greet Kiefer. During this time, a family came by and with their son in a stroller. I am not sure what physical problem the boy had, but he was not moving much. I then asked the family if Kiefer could go up to the little boy. Kiefer went up to the stroller and nudged the boy’s hand very gently, and the boy’s eyes lit up. Being very careful, Kiefer climbed on the side of the stroller to get a better look at the boy. The boy reached out his hand to pet Kiefer, who stayed very still, and stroked his fur. When the boy was all done Kiefer got off the stroller and sat next to the father whose face was priceless. Kiefer looked up at the man; you could see in his eyes that he was asking the man if he did a good job. The family thanked us for making the boy smile. It was then I realized that Kiefer had a gift, something that you cannot teach.
Now a little about me, as I do not find myself as interesting as Kiefer. I currently live in Watertown, CT in the U.S.A. I am a mother of two, a wife, and a paraprofessional. I work with students in 3rd and 4th grade. I volunteer for New England Border Collie Rescue. My family and I share our house with six rescue dogs and three rescue cats.
I hope to continue Kiefer’s story in more books in the future. You can visit Kiefer on Facebook or check out his website. At both sites you can see pictures from some of our schools visits. Kiefer and I have also had the chance to be on television three times now. We love having the opportunity to reach out and spread the news of our books. If you have any questions or would like to order an autograph copy of the books please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
I welcome people to share their dog stories on dogstwentyfourseven as guest authors. Please contact me if you have an interesting story on a rescue dog, a dog with special needs, a funny dog “tail,” or a well-loved pooch that you adore. A tribute to a dog would be very special to share with others too. Comments can be made on the blog after any of my posts are published.
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