When staff at an animal rescue center first met Ivor, they could tell why previous owners might not have been able to cope with him. But then, after just a few months of love and hard work, Ivor had both a new owner and an impressive new skill.
Ivor is a dog who lives in Colne, Lancashire, in the north west of England. He’s a Staffy – otherwise known as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier – and there’s no doubt that he’s totally adorable. But sadly for Ivor, he hasn’t had an easy life so far.
Ivor is a dog who lives in Colne, Lancashire, in the northwest of England. He’s a Staffy – otherwise known as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier – and there’s no doubt that he’s totally adorable. But sadly for Ivor, he hasn’t had an easy life so far.
After the beginning of his life was spent hopping from home to home, Ivor ended up at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). In 2017 the RSPCA didn’t just take in Ivor, but over 100,000 other animals as well.
There are many reasons why animals like Ivor end up being returned or taken in by shelters. But often, the issue is how expensive it can be to look after an animal. Not only that, but sometimes people can’t deal with disobedience, or perhaps the new animal can’t get along with an existing pet or child.
However, in Ivor’s case, the reason why he ended up at the RSPCA was a little bit different. It didn’t take long for staff at the rescue centre to come to a conclusion about why the seven-month-old Staffy might have been passed around so much.
RSPCA handlers realized that Ivor was not like other dogs his age. He wasn’t quite trained, but the reason why not might come as a surprise. In fact, Ivor wasn’t able to follow orders well because he couldn’t hear them. He was deaf.
But when Ivor arrived at the RSPCA he was looked after really well. “The staff there loved me very much and did a brilliant job of training me to come (touch my nose to hand) and sit and to learn how to be a good doggie,” reads a Facebook page devoted to Ivor’s progress.
However, the animal shelter was only a temporary solution for the Staffy; he was waiting for someone to adopt him for real. And then, in December 2017, the perfect companion came into his life. Her name was Ellie Bromilow.
It took a bit of persuasion for Bromilow’s family to let her take on Ivor, but eventually she succeeded and brought the adorable pup home with her. While others might have had concerns over Ivor’s deafness, Bromilow was sure that she could handle it.
And there’s video evidence to prove it. Some footage of Ivor and Bromilow was posted online, where it quickly gained a lot of attention. That’s because the video was truly remarkable. Even BBC News and the Daily Mail have reported on it.
The first shot of the video shows Ivor sitting patiently on the carpet of his owner’s house. Speaking from behind the camera, Bromilow explains that she is about to show us Ivor following some instructions such as “sit” and “stay.”
However, instead of verbalizing the instructions, Bromilow does something totally unexpected. To get her dog to come to her, all she does is hold out her hand. Sure enough, Ivor obediently walks towards her, to be rewarded with a “thumbs up.”
At that point, it’s clear that Bromilow is using sign language to communicate with Ivor – something that people online thought was incredible. Next in the video, Bromilow manages to get the Staffy to lie down by holding up her thumb and forefinger to the dog.
The silent show continues with Bromilow placing a treat down in front of Ivor. He stares at it intensely but, following his owner’s hand signal, he doesn’t move from his spot. Only when she signs that he can take the treat, does the Staffy go and gobble it up.
“He loves his treats,” says Bromilow as Ivor happily munches away. And it seemed as though the internet loved Ivor too. “Gorgeous dog” one person wrote, while another commented, “Major bravo for both dog and human.”
There was also a lot of praise for Bromilow for making the effort to train the Staffy using sign language. “So that’s what a little understanding, a good deal of patience and a whole lot of love can do! Ellie Bromilow has made a breakthrough with this dog.”
However, the staff at RSPCA in Halifax, England, deserve some of the credit too. They were the ones who initially familiarized Ivor with some hand signals, and then Bromilow built on the Staffy’s repertoire even further – adding “lie down” and “stay” to his vocabulary.
After Ivor’s story went public, other people came forward to say that they had been teaching their dog sign language too. “Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. When my 13-year-old Staffy became deaf, he was very quick to learn hand signals,” a fellow deaf dog owner revealed.
According to the Daily Mail, Ivor’s favorite hand signal to see is the one for “walkies.” However, there’s still one other instruction left to learn. Bromilow explained that Ivor has not quite mastered the command to “roll over.” Judging by his progress so far, it shouldn’t take him long, though.