A deaf dachshund named Sparky has been adopted this week by Missouri School for the Deaf to enrich the lives of the children. Deaf dogs are often difficult to find homes for as people often overlook them, believing that they are not able to provide the right care for dogs with behavioral or physical issues. However, Sparky has found the right home for him, having been trained to understand sign language.
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 responds to hand signals to sit, heel, lay down, and stop and is being taught by the children signs that mean “food” or “outside.”
A second deaf dog, a Boston Terrier named Petie, has also been offered to the school. Garrison is interested in taking in Petie on the basis that she knows he can eventually be placed in a permanent home after some sign language training, McGrath said.
Sparky and Petie come from the Puppies for Parole program of the Missouri Department of Corrections. The program teaches inmates to train animals with issues that make them difficult to adopt and 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.”