Home > Deaf History > Butch, the Little Lady Dog

Butch, the Little Lady Dog

June 22, 2007

Charles Moskowitz fingerspelling instructions to Butch

The little fox terrier went through the familar routine. As his master commanded the little dog sat, stood, walked on its hind legs, turned around, fetched something, played dead or performed some of the many other tricks it knew.

There is nothing unusual about dogs performing such tricks, of course, except that the little dog’s master had not uttered one vocal command. Butch’s master, Charles Moskowitz, was deaf and did not speak. So, Moskowitz, had taught his little dog to respond to commands in fingerspelling. Fingerspelling, yes; signs, no. So amazing was this feat that many people would not believe it could be done until they had seen the little dog perform themselves. One of the non-believers, according to Moskowitz, was Robert Ripley, creator of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Cartoons.

The Moskowitz family had received the little mixed spitz and fox female terrier for Christmas in 1941 and the children had named her Butch. Moskowitz began teaching her to do tricks when she was two months old. Butch learned the tricks easily but it took three years to teach her to respond to fingerspelled commands.

Moskowitz and Butch performed before many audiences and at the National Association of the Deaf convention in Cleveland. They were popluar attractions wherever they went. They were featured on the covers of the American Weekly. The Greenville (S.C.) News and The Silent Worker.

By Jack R Gannon of Deaf Heritage A Narrative History of Deaf America

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Categories: Deaf History
  1. June 25, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Kaycie, my Westie, knows all of her commands in sign. She gets so excited about going for a walk. So when I want to go for a walk without her, I have to fingerspell w-a-l-k to let my family know that I’m going outside.

    I’m pretty sure that Kaycie is going to figure that out someday soon.

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