Meet 'Sparky,' a 1-year-old deaf double dapple and two of his friends, Catherine Slinkard and Michael Miller, where he now resides at the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton. Sparky was surrendered to a shelter by a breeder, and when the shelter couldn't home him, he was sent to prison - the slammer, the pokey, the big house, the joint, Club Fed - where he was trained in the Puppies for Parole program. Excerpt from the Fulton Sun:
After eight-weeks of training at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking, the prisoners decided they wanted Sparky to find a home at a school for the deaf so he could help others. When Barbara Garrison, superintendent at the Missouri School for the Deaf, was contacted about adopting the dachshund, she said, “Bring him on! We will take him.”
Garrison drove out to SCCC to pick up the dachshund the inmates had named Zeus. She said when she first brought the dog over to the school, he was bouncing all around with such energy “like a spark plug” that “it was natural that his name needed to be Sparky.” She added that Zeus was also more difficult to pronounce.“He fits perfectly here,” Garrison said, “because these kids hear all the time what they can’t do. We try to tell them what they can do.”
She said it’s been the same for the deaf dachshund. The inmates taught him a some sign language, and now the students are trying to continue his training. Sparky knows the signs for “no,” “sit,” “lay down,” “stay,” “stop” and “heel.” Slinkard said she’s been working with him on “outside” and “food.”
Garrison said she receives a weekly call from SCCC staff, checking to see how Sparky is doing. He usually stays at Garrison’s house at night where she keeps four other dachshunds. During the day, he may be seen around campus. Sometimes Sparky can help calm a student with behavior or social problems down, Garrison explained. Not only can he be used as a therapy dog, but when students such as Slinkard and Miller have to take care of him overnight, Garrison said it teaches them responsibility.
“He likes his new deaf family here,” she said.
Read this fantastic story in its entirety at the Fulton Sun.