The students at the Missouri School for the Deaf know what it's like to be ostracised due to a hearing impairment. That's why Sparky, the resident Dachshund, fits in so well. He's deaf, too.
Before Sparky came to live at the school earlier this year, he was in danger of being euthanized because he was born without the ability to hear. Fortunately, Sparky made it into the Puppies for Parole program, an initiative of the Missouri Department of Corrections where inmates train rescue dogs in order to make them more adoptable. When the eight week prison training program was complete, the inmates decided they wanted Sparky to live with deaf youth.
The superintendent of the Missouri School for the Deaf, Barbara Garrison, jumped at the chance to introduce Sparky to her students. "He fits perfectly here," she told the Fulton Sun. "Because these kids hear all the time what they can't do. We try to tell them what they can do. He likes his new deaf family here."
Sparky responds to commands in American Sign Language, and knows "sit," "stay," "lie down" and other basics as well as any pooch. With help from the students, he is learning more all the time.
Sparky has made such a positive impact at the school that another deaf four-legged friend from Puppies for Parole may be joining him in the near future.