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Award-Winning Deaf Therapy Dog Comforts School Children

In recent years, therapy dogs have become a welcome addition to schools worldwide. From elementary schools to universities, it’s highly likely you’ll come across a wagging tail and furry friend to help you along the way during your academic journey.

Given that, it’s no surprise that a TikTok video uploaded on Sept. 20 has gone viral for showcasing an endearing Pit Bull. The pooch is deaf, cuddly, and delighted to make a difference in the lives of young school pupils. Cole, an award-winning therapy dog, garnered well-deserved attention because he comforts children on their way to and from the classroom.

Meet Cole, the compassionate canine

On any given morning, the school bus ride can be a dreary, tiresome experience for many young students. But for some lucky elementary schoolers, their daily commute is now infused with a new level of excitement and happiness. And this is all thanks to their special four-legged friend named Cole.

Cole is a certified therapy dog with an incredible ability to bring comfort and joy to everyone he encounters, even if he can’t hear a thing. For many students, he’s a source of silent comfort — someone they can turn to when they’re feeling sad or anxious. Accordingly, he’s seen as someone who is always there to listen. And while he may not be able to hear their voices, the kids know that Cole understands them in his own way. His deafness only makes him even more special to these school children who have the pleasure of his company.

How a deaf therapy dog communicates and comforts

From the very beginning, Cole was an intelligent Pit Bull who swiftly learned to follow hand signals. However, it wasn’t long before Cole and his owner Chris Hannah delved into a completely different mode of communication: American Sign Language. Guided by the assistance of Hannah’s nephew, Kevin Guinan, who was also born deaf, Cole not only aced ASL but mastered it to perfection. 

Cole’s uniqueness became evident when he began interacting with the students at Dr. William Mennies Elementary in Vineland. He easily connected with them, particularly those who were grappling with various differences. The pup had a knack for bringing comfort and warmth to these school children, gently coaxing them out of their shells. It was clear that he was more than just an ordinary canine — his compassionate nature made him truly extraordinary.

And, rightly so, he’s about to receive the recognition he deserves.

Cole named 2023 ASPCA ‘Dog of the Year’

Cole, the Deaf Dog, has earned the prestigious title of the 2023 ASPCA Dog of the Year. He, along with other recipients of the ASPCA’s Humane Awards, will be commemorated at an awards luncheon on Oct. 12 in New York City.

The ASPCA conducted a countrywide search for animal heroes, and Cole’s remarkable story stood out — inspiring thousands of people from diverse backgrounds to see their disabilities as superpowers. In a statement released by the ASPCA, they expressed their deep admiration for Cole’s story, stating, “The Dog of the Year has been a longstanding award for the ASPCA, and Cole perfectly represents the values of service and heroism used to make a large impact on everyone he meets.”

Hannah couldn’t contain his excitement upon hearing about his pup’s latest achievement. “Winning the ASPCA Dog of the Year is an absolute dream come true,” exclaimed Hannah. Despite being a full-time music teacher in Vineland, he remains devoted to raising awareness about disability rights and advocating against breed discrimination.

Deaf dog puts his best paw forward in disability advocacy work

Cole’s dog dad, Chris Hannah, has established the Cole the Deaf Dog & Friends Foundation. The non-profit organization is dedicated to expanding the mission of the Team Cole Project, which promotes kindness and acceptance.

The initiative involves providing scholarships for enrichment programs designed for children with special needs. With each act of compassion, Cole changes hearts and minds regarding the importance of embracing disability advocacy. Moreover, he helps raise awareness about the meaningful role therapy dogs play in people’s lives.

For anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of meeting Cole, it’s hard not to feel a sense of awe and wonder at this incredible pup. With his quiet determination and endless capacity for love, he’s proof that, sometimes, the most special beings are the ones who don’t have to say a word.

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