The man is clearly very sad to be leaving his dog at the shelter. He is also clearly deaf. His hearing friend and companion is comforting him with hand signs and hugs as he says goodbye to the little female long-haired Chihuahua, whose big, frightened eyes never leave his face.
His companion is filling out paperwork, explaining to the shelter personnel that they are moving, somewhere the dog is not welcome. The dog is terrified, trying to hide behind the legs of both men, enclosed in an eerie circle of caged, staring shelter cats and their flat, yellow-eyed welcome. The leash encloses legs like a hungry snake.
The deaf man catches the dog’s attention, leans down, and carefully makes a very clear signal several times with his hands. The dog stares at him uncomprehendingly, but with every line of her body desperate to know what he wants. Signal. Signal. Signal. The dog vibrates with urgency. What does he want??!?
She can’t obey him. She doesn’t understand him. He stops signaling — her desperation to understand him has at least stopped her getting underfoot.
His companion finishes the paperwork. They lift the dog and hand her to a shelter worker, who gives her a sympathetic squeeze as she trembles. The men start for the door, then the deaf man abruptly turns and gesticulates, mixed gesture-and-speech. “She doesn’t….”
The shelter worker tries, but her look mirrors the dog’s. “I’m sorry?”
Paper, a pen, a practiced search. In big, careful letters, he writes: SHE DOESNT LIKE BISKTS on a post-it note. He draws a little cartoon bone beneath: she does not like dog biscuits. The shelter worker nods solemnly, points at the bone and shakes her head. No biscuits.