For the past month I’ve been taking a continuing-ed class in American Sign Language (ASL). I’m writing a book on the subject for a client so I thought it would be useful if I could learn some basic signs. And it has helped. Enormously. If nothing else, I’ve discovered how hard it is to contort my hands into different shapes, not to mention memorizing the manual alphabet and all the many signs.
To reinforce what I’m learning, I decided to teach Pablo some simple signs. BTW, teaching dogs ASL is not unheard of. A few breeds, such as Dalmatians, are genetically prone to deafness and older dogs can become deaf as well. The first sign I taught Pablo is SIT, which I fingerspell. SIT has its own sign, of course, but fingerspelling seems to work better with Pablo.
After a few tries, Pablo caught on–and here’s the amazing part, he’ll sit even when I don’t have food! He doesn’t do that when I give him the verbal command–just looks at me as if he’s thinking “What’s in it for me?” I wish I had known ASL when he was a pup. Think of all the commands he would know by now!