HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
HANDS ON: Shannon Muller communicates with her deaf dog Echo using hand signs that she created for him to understand her instructions. On the left, she’s telling Echo to stay and, on the right, to turn around.Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - THERE’S always a large pair of soft brown eyes following Durban North resident Shannon Muller wherever she goes.

Even her slightest movement is watched and any instructions she may want followed are given with a quick turn of her hand.

Often, it’s to tell her eight-year-old pit bull Echo to stay or sit as he’s always bounding about the yard.

Echo is deaf, and Muller has created a set of short hand signals to communicate with him.

“We had seen an advert about eight years ago advertising a pet that was deaf, and I felt I had to get him because I was worried about him not being able to manage. I wanted to take him in and care for him, and that’s how he became part of our family,” said Muller.

When Echo got to his new home, he was eight weeks old and Muller immediately set out training him and devising a way to communicate with him.

“I researched online about the ways to communicate with your pet and there were few resources. However, I just came up with some signs and trained him to sit, stay, come to me and circle. He’s learnt the signs and carries out whatever the instruction is,” said Muller.

Often, simple body language gets the message across.

“Echo knows when he has to leave the room simply by watching me,” she said.

When Echo and Daisy, also a pit bull, are taken out to the beachfront, Muller said Echo’s eyes are always searching for her.

“He’s always looking up at me when we are out. He is incredibly friendly and just wants to play. We know that pit bulls receive a lot of bad publicity but Echo is very special,” she said.

The dogs recently escaped from the yard and Muller said they had been worried about how he would cope being outside the yard.

“I think for those two days he simply followed Daisy and we were so relieved they were okay. They were picked up roaming around North Coast Road and were safe,” she said.