Deaf dog adopted by deaf kids after learning sign language
People may be reluctant to adopt a deaf dog, but what if they were deaf themselves?
Tue, Feb 08 2011 at 5:52 PM
DEAF DOGS: Training drain deaf dogs for deaf owners began at a Missouri prison. Inmates trained a deaf dachshund in sign language and then asked the Missouri School for the Deaf to take him in. (Photo: jupiterimages)
KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Most people may be reluctant to adopt a deaf dog, but what if they were deaf themselves?
The idea made sense to inmates at a Missouri prison who trained a deaf dachshund in sign language and then asked the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton to take him in.
Today, the dog named Sparky is right at home with the school's youngsters, who have taught him additional sign language. And a second deaf dog, a Boston Terrier named Petie, may be on his way to the school soon.
Superintendent Barbara Garrison approved bringing Sparky to the school.
"She really thought it would be a great learning experience for the kids," Garrison's secretary Barbara McGrath said in an interview Tuesday.
Sparky came from the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Mo., which has also offered Petie. Garrison is interested in taking in Petie but only if she knows it can eventually be placed in a permanent home after some sign language training, McGrath said.
Sparky responds to hand signals to sit, heel, lay down, and stop and is working on additional signs that mean "food" or "outside."
Sparky and Petie come from the Puppies for Parole program of the Missouri Department of Corrections in which inmates train animals with behavioral or other issues that make them difficult to adopt. The program saves dogs that might otherwise be euthanized and it gives inmates a constructive activity, said Tina Holland, activities coordinator at the Licking prison.
"It's been wonderful — it's gone far beyond what we thought it would be," Holland said. "Their goal is just to get these dogs a home."
(Writing by Kevin Murphy, edited by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)
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