Ryan Lane, Casper, and Dogs for a Better Life
Deaf actor, Ryan Lane, might be known for his roles as William Ellsworth Hoy in Dummy Hoy: A Deaf Hero and Travis in ABC Family's Switched at Birth, but did you know he is an avid dog lover and humanitarian? So much so that he often takes in rescue dogs and is very active with the charity organization Dogs for Betters Lives, formally known as Dogs for the Deaf. This amazing organization helps train and connect dogs with deaf individuals, people with autism, physicians, teachers, counselors, and court room advocates.
Please read further to learn more about Ryan, his adorable puppy Casper, and Dogs for Better Lives.
Foreword by Kira Bucca, Editor and Chief of Jejune Magazine.
I see you are a big dog lover! Can you tell us about your new puppy, Casper?
Casper is a deaf boxer with so much energy! I wasn't really ready for another dog after the passing of my last dog Zero, aka Squishy, but a breeder who lives on a ranch was worried about his safety. Being deaf on a ranch with coyotes in the area made him a real target, so he felt it was better that he had a more secure home, and I couldn't refuse him. He's a typical crazy puppy who loves to play ball. There's nothing better than the unconditional love from a dog.
Do you have a favorite type of dog? If so, why?
It really doesn’t matter to me, I love Squishy and Casper, who are both white deaf boxers. I also adopted Earl Grey, who is half blue nose and half brindle pitbull. I love my roommate’s dog who's half Spanish Mastiff and half Golden Lab or Golden Retriever, and my mom’s and sister’s dogs too, who are Valley Bulldog (half boxer and half English bulldog). I really love all type dogs. They will always be part of our family and they are best.
What made you decide to get a deaf dog? Have all your dogs been deaf?
In the beginning, I didn’t really think about getting a deaf dog. My friend/photographer, who took my first head shots, showed me a picture of a deaf dog that was being fostered and needed a forever home with someone who could teach him sign language. I went to meet him and it was love at first sight. He was a very smart dog and learned sign language really fast and all kinds of tricks. He truly became my soul mate. I miss him so much.
Do you find training a deaf dog to be very different from training a hearing dog?
Honestly, it's the same other than getting their attention, and they actually sometimes they're easier because they don't get distracted as easily. A fun fact is that every dog on a Hollywood set knows some form of sign language. The trainer can't yell commands while shooting, so that have to know signs.
Can you tell us about Dogs for a Better Lives (formally Dogs for the Deaf)?
This is an amazing nonprofit organization that rescues dogs from shelters and has them professionally trained to help aid the deaf as well as people with disabilities like autism.
How did you get involved with Dogs for a Better Lives?
After getting Zero and knowing how much he brought to my life, I wanted to do more with dogs. My friend and co-worker Marlee Matlin was working with Dogs for the Deaf and when I found out what they did, I really wanted to help, so I reached out to them.
Where do they find their dogs?
They find their dogs in shelters.
Please tell us about what you have done with Dogs for a Better Lives?
I have done social media posting to inform people about the organization, I have done dog walks for them to help raise money, and currently, I am the spokesperson and get to talk at fundraisers and events.
What are your thoughts on assistant dogs for the deaf?
I think it's great! To see these dogs in action is amazing, from alerting them that a timer is going off, to smoke alarms, telephone ring, alarm clock, doorbell/knock, a name call and even a baby cry. The amount of support, love, as well as companionship that these dogs give is priceless.
Clearly you did not decide to have a hearing dog. Who do you think would benefit from Dogs for a Better Lives? Does Casper assist you in any other ways?
Anyone with a hearing loss, including the elderly would benefit from Dogs for a Better Life. They have assistance dogs that work with teachers, doctors and therapists that work with special needs kids to provide a calming effect and they also have autism assistance dogs to provide safety, comfort, and confidence. Casper does assist me. He's a constant in my life and provides unconditional love.
Tell us a cute story about Casper.
There's really no single cute story about Casper, everything about him is cute, but recently he has been freaked out by his reflection in the fireplace glass. He loves to do donuts on the front lawn and playing tag with my roommates dog Brady. I have gotten videos of him freaking out and trying to get a reaction out of things like flowers, oranges and a leaf. It's fun to watch him discover the world.