Deaf Therapy Dog Takes Ride To Cheer Up Students
Watch as he brings smiles to students and families stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sometimes, all it takes is a little puppy love to put people at ease – even if the pup is less than perfect!
"Cole the Deaf Dog" is a local celebrity in his hometown of Vineland, NJ. Chris Hannah, Cole's owner, adopted Cole in April 2017 after he was deemed "broken" and passed up by multiple families for adoption at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.
Hannah immediately recognized Cole's potential as a therapy dog, and now he works alongside the teacher every day at Mennies Elementary School in South Jersey.
Cole teaches students that it's ok to be different, and that a disability can turn into a super power. @ColeTheDeafDog
Along with being a companion to the students at Mennies, Cole also serves as the official mascot for the Vinelands Veterans Memorial Home, where he provides comfort to the residents there, some of whom are in hospice care.
Since schools in the area closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hannah wanted to figure out a way to keep Cole connected with the people who rely on his visits every day.
Since Hannah and Cole can no longer visit people in person, Hannah has been setting up virtual playdates and posting bedtime stories on YouTube to help the kids and senior living residents adjust to their new routines.
The Team Cole Project decided to plan a drive-by visit to students in the community to make them smile.
"I mapped out the neighborhoods, hopped in the truck and went for a test drive to see how we could make it work," Hannah told the Daily Journal.
Cole is the official mascot of for the Vinelands Veterans Memorial Home. @ColeTheDeafDog
Hannah put out a call to the community and let them know that he would be making the rounds with Cole, and to come outside or wave from the window when they passed by.
"I thought we'd get a few waves," Hannah said.
They got much more than that.
As Hannah and Cole drove through the students' neighborhoods, they were met with handmade signs, cheers and smiles from the kids, who were anxiously awaiting a visit from their favorite pooch.
Cole stuck his head out of the window and enjoyed head pats and behind-the-ear scratches from some of his fans, while others waved from their windows and porches as the Cole-mobile rolled by their homes.
"Cole had his paws and his head out the window," Hannah said. "It was so unbelievably touching that this dog is doing this for these children."
Students made signs to greet Cole as he drove by their homes. @ColeTheDeafDog
Hannah plans to do more drive-by visits as the school closures continue.
"We just want to be there for the people who count on us," Hannah said. "There are a lot of them."
Way to go Hannah and Cole for going the extra mile (literally!) to bring smiles to their community during a time of crisis. We can't wait to see Cole's next ride!