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Submitted by Janis Schoenfeld
I wanted to tell you how the story of Harley, the Queensland Heeler at the Humane Society in Phoenix turned out. It had the best of all possible endings, as I wish all these kinds of stories could.
First though, I want to thank you so much for your wonderful notes on Queenslands. They were very helpful and also for sharing the very moving story of the deaf dog in your competition. My dog experience had consisted of Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds and I knew that knowledge was not going to help very much.
To continue the story.....armed with your email, I went down the next day to the shelter so I could spend some time with Harley before the adoption hour arrived. When I sat down beside him, he was very
withdrawn and just seemed to stare straight ahead. I was not able to establish eye contact with him. One of the shelter volunteers came by and then Harley was up and at attention. She said that right now he was only responding to the people and the shelter. Then she told me he was not totally deaf. There were certain pitches he could respond to.
Watching him, when other dogs at the shelter started barking, certain barks did get a bark or two back from Harley. The only other problem I could see was that he needed to go on a diet....big time. I'm sure it was the inactivity of the confines of the shelter and he was not able to get exercise.
When the adoption hour came, several people turned up to try and adopt him. When this happens, the shelter has all interested people draw lots. We did not win the draw, but I was extremely happy about who did win. They were a retired couple from Mesa, which is a small town just SE of Phoenix, and they already had a Queensland Heeler. But, the very best thing of all was that they lived on a place that had several acres!! That sounded like absolute heaven to me because it's hard to have any land of any size this close to the Phoenix area. My yard is not all that big, but I figured with lots of walks and hikes, which I do anyway, he would get enough exercise.
Having also been a musician all my life, when I found out Harley wasn't totally deaf, I was going to use a pitch pipe and keep going up the scales until I found the note at which he would bark. That was going to be my starting point for training him. My idea was to try and teach him something like Morse code to respond to different commands, using the pitch he could hear.
My husband, an electronics engineer, just retired last year and we will be leaving the Phoenix area as soon as we find a place somewhere in our "outback" of Arizona as neither one of us can stand city life and Phoenix has exploded since we first moved here. That's why we were looking for a dog at this particular time.
I hope to visit your fantastic country some day. My husband and I are both amateur astronomers and ever since I saw a movie called "The Dish" about the large antenna at Parkes during the Apollo 11 moon flight, I knew I would have to visit that town some day and many other places I've read about. Watching the Olympics gave us another chance to see parts of Australia up close. It was one of the best Olympics we have ever seen. It was so beautifully done and so creative.