Sierra, Washington, DC

My name is Sierra. I was rescued when I was 4 months old; malnourished, open sores from untreated mange and, my human mom says, a heart the size of Texas.

A deaf friend of my human mom found me but couldn’t keep me and knew that the local shelter would put me down because not only am I a pitbull, I am a deaf pitbull. Sadly, many fear that deaf dogs like me are not trainable or that they will be fearful biters. Add to that the misperceptions about the pitbull breed and many folks aren’t willing to give dogs like me a chance. Want to know what I do if you startle me awake? Before my eyes are even open to see what is going on, my tail starts wagging a mile-a-minute at the anticipation of people to love on when I’m up.

Like any deaf dog, I rely on eye contact and hand signals. Training this way was an easy transition for my human mom since she is an ASL interpreter. However, even those who don’t know sign can easily learn to communicate with their dog through eye contact and hand signals. Many trainers my human mom has worked with were initially reluctant to let me in their class. However, all the trainers came to quickly realize that training a deaf dog is really no different than any other dog, they just work with visual cues instead of vocal cues. At the end of one training session, our trainer lavished so many ‘awards’ on me that we actually asked him to share them with the rest of the dogs in the class. (I am humble that way.)

I am also a cancer survivor that left me a tri-ped. When I was 6-years-old, my human mom found out I had a cancerous tumor in my hind-left paw. In order to save me, they had to amputate the entire leg. I still had such energy and life and my human family thought, how could they not save me?  The Vet projected it would take me a few weeks to learn to walk again. Little did they know the determination and spirit of a pitbull; the day of the surgery the staff took me for my first walk/run around the block. When my human family came to pick her up, I had no left leg and staples showing, but I was wagging my tail and giving kisses to everyone at the vet office. I, being a model patient, am now the Vet’s ‘spokes-dog’ for other dog owners considering amputation.

My human mom can’t count the number of friends and family that were initially terrified of pitbulls that after meeting me are now their biggest advocates. We have a whole neighborhood of kids who are over regularly wanting to walk me, or dog-sit, or just come over for some of my awesome loving and doggie kisses.

I am an elderbull now, 13, but my spirit is as young as ever. The fact that I’m deaf, a cancer survivor, a tri-ped, a pit bull, well, none of that matters in the end because to my human family, I’m just Ci-Ci, the best dog in the whole world. I opened my human family’s hearts and minds to the pitbull breed and proved, what we already knew: DEAF DOGS ROCK!

Parents: Amanda & Jon Mueller
Photos courtesy of Alexandra (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)

I’m Not a Monster was truly saddened to learn of Sierra’s passing in March of 2012. Our hearts go to Amanda and her family for this loss and we are sincerely thankful that they shared beautiful Sierra with us for she touched our hearts and so many others who’ve only known her through her wonderful story. Sierra was one of our early “Monsters” and she changed perceptions of pit bulls, deaf dogs and amputees; For that we are in awe and eternally grateful.