Snoopy proves that deaf horses can do anything!
When police officer Loope walks into the barn, all of the horses stir-except for Snoopy. Snoopy is one of the newest horses in the Roanoke City Police Department in Roanoke, Virginia. He is an American Paint, with brown pointed ears and a brown “cap” on his white head.
Snoopy is four years old. He is registered as “Mister Apache Paint” and performs in horse shows as “Ghost Dancer.” But most people just call him “Snoopy” because of his Beagle markings. He was donated to the police department because he is deaf-or perhaps hard of hearing.
“We noticed that he seemed to startle from his left side,” said Office John Loope, who is Snoopy’s main rider. “We called the family, and the family said that he may have a little hearing in his left ear.”
Loope believes the hearing is very faint because, when he enters the barn, the other horses know he’s there. Snoopy doesn’t know people have arrived until he can see or smell them. “He keeps hanging his head out of the door,” said Loope.
Snoopy has a “deaf voice,” too, he said. While other horses whinny and neigh, Snoopy “kind of woofs,” said Loope. “It almost sounds like hard breathing,” he said. “But you can tell he wants to communicate.”
So far, Snoopy’s communication has been masterful. He has been written about in the Roanoke newspaper and in horse magazines. Everyone knows him. When Loope goes to town, everyone wants to know where Snoopy is.
At first, Loope was a little worried about Snoopy joining the police department. Loope wasn’t worried about Snoopy’s deafness, but his age. Snoopy is still young. “We’ve never had a horse be able to stay in the department who was under five years old,” said Loope.
But so far, Snoopy’s “doing just fine,” he said. He has made his way through several steps of training and made several excursions into the city with a police officer on his back.Loope is optimistic about Snoopy’s success.
“The Indians called this kind of horse a spirit horse,” said Loope. “They believed that American Paints would keep them safe in battle.”
He thinks that Snoopy’s deafness may be a plus. City noises sometimes make hearing horses jumpy and nervous. He is not sure what will happen when a horse experiences the city through vision.
“We have high hopes,” Loope told newspaper reporters.