Meet Sparky: A School's Best Friend

UPDATED 05/02/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/02/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT

As adorable as the miniature dachshund was, his Missouri breeder held little hope that he'd find the pup a home. The dog was cute, but he'd been born deaf and barked incessantly. In fact the breeder was on the verge of putting him down when a family unexpectedly took him in. But the family lost patience quickly and took him to a shelter. The pup was as tough a case as they had seen. Says Marsha Martin of the Animal Shelter of Texas County: "What in the heck was I going to do with a deaf wiener dog?"

Then she had an idea. The dog was perfectly suited to a program at a state prison where inmates give rescue animals special training meant to make them better pets. Using American Sign Language, inmates taught the dog basic commands-sit, stay, lie down-then wrote to the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton, Mo., hoping for a home. "He's an adorable, people-loving, 1-year-old, crystal-blue-eyed miniature dachshund," wrote the inmates. For school superintendent Barbara Garrison, "It was a no-brainer." Students instantly took to the dog, naming him Sparky and begging him to sit on their laps and sleep in their rooms. With a pet back home who answers only to voice commands, Catherine Slinkard, 16, says, "it was pretty cool to have a dog that would listen." Adds Michael Miller, 18: "He's just like us."

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine

Advertisement

From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners



Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters