Sparky, a 1-year-old dachshund, looks like your typical wiener dog, but this little guy is rather special -Pets Photos- the dog is deaf but understands a number of commands in sign language, reports the Fulton Sun.
The hard of hearing pooch got his start in a Puppies for Parole training program at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Mo. The program pairs adoptable pups with prison inmates, and in his eight weeks of training Sparky learned signs for “no,” “sit,” “lay down,” “stay,” “stop” and “heel.” After that, the inmates thought the dog should live with people who could appreciate his skills, so he was relocated to his new home at the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton, Mo.
And, to nobody’s surprise, he’s a huge hit. The school’s superintendent, Barbara Garrison, was thrilled to add the cute canine to her crew — she already had four other dachshunds at home, plus she knew how much good Sparky could do for her students. “He fits perfectly here because these kids hear all the time what they can’t do. We try to tell them what they can do,” she told the Fulton Sun.
It’s not just Garrison who’s pleased to have Sparky roaming the halls. The students have begun teaching the dog more signs, and some have even asked to have Sparky sleep in their dorm. One student, senior Michael Miller, told the Fulton Sun that it feels special to communicate with Sparky because he can communicate with him in sign. And the dog’s calming presence has been helpful on several occasions when students have experienced behavior or social problems.
Sparky’s prison family hasn’t forgotten about him. Garrison told the Fulton Sun that she gets a weekly call from prison staff to check on the little guy, and she’s happy to report that he’s very happy with his new family.