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Kids and dogs learn to use sign language in Great Falls

Kids and dogs learn to use sign language in Great Falls
Kendall Bechard, Animal Care Specialist and Instructor for the ASL Dog Training clas
Misha John, Marketing and Development for the center
Posted at 9:22 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 23:22:02-04

GREAT FALLS — The Maclean Cameron Animal Adoption Center in Great Falls is teaching children how they can be responsible and smart pet parents.

As part of their summer “Critter Camps” for kids, the Maclean Cameron Animal Adoption Center hosted a special class on Monday, July 12.

This workshop educated the young pet owners on how they can train their dogs using American Sign Language.

“We’re running our kids camps here at the Maclean Cameron Animal Adoption Center and we have the pleasure of our own staff having experience working with deaf dogs and teaching them sign language to train them, so she was able to come in today and show them how she does it,” said Misha John, who does marketing and development for the center.

According to the Modern Language Association's 2016 study of U.S. colleges and universities, American Sign Language is the third most-used and studied language in the United States, and there are many benefits in training a dog in sign language.

They will often respond better to commands with hand signals while training, and as the dog gets older and may lose their ability to hear, their owners can still communicate with them.

The signs used in training can also provide backup if the dog has a difficult time understanding verbal commands.

“I’m just so lucky that I have a job that’s so wonderful, and then being able to teach the kiddos here, they’re so smart and they’re so interested and they’re so excited about learning Sign, and it’s just awesome because I think a lot of times ASL is, you know, not thought of as another language, when really it’s the 3rd most used language in the U.S. and so, being able to get them interested and excited about ASL, you know, maybe they’ll look into doing something or learning more about it in the future and then being able to communicate with more people,” said Kendall Bechard, Animal Care Specialist and Instructor for the ASL Dog Training class.

The Maclean Cameron Animal Adoption Center will continue their summer “Critter Camps” with their dog-themed weeks through the end of July, and in August they’ll begin their art-themed camps. Click here for more information.