When Chris Hannah showed up at the Cumberland County SPCA, there was an especially cute 4-month-old puppy that potential adopters were lining up to meet. His big floppy ears and bright white fur drew everyone toward his kennel. But as people walked away, Chris kept hearing the same things:
"He's so sweet... it's a shame he's deaf."
"That seems like a lot of work."
"He'll never be like a normal dog."
"I don't want a dog that's broken."
When it was finally Chris's turn to meet this puppy, he didn't see any of those things. He didn't see a charity case or a dog who needed work. He saw a sweet puppy who was different, but still deserving of love and acceptance. Chris knows better than most that differences are meant to be celebrated.
Cole as a puppy
Chris took Cole home and soon realized that Cole was extremely bright. He began training him as a therapy dog and was amazed to see how quickly he took to it. Training commands are a bit different with a deaf dog, but Cole keeps his eyes glued to Chris for cues.
Making masks for Veterans
Chris's nephew is also deaf — a fact that's been a driving force behind Chris's dedication to showing others that something perceived as a disability is not the same thing as an inability.
As an elementary school music teacher, Chris on the frontlines when it comes to teaching important lessons about empathy and compassion. By seeing Cole in the classroom each day, students recognize that being different isn't cause for fear or discomfort, but is instead something to be accepted and celebrated.
Cole sporting his vest from the Veterans Memorial Home
In just a few short years, Cole has gone from a "broken" puppy in a shelter to a pillar of his community. From holding down a full-time job as a therapy dog at the elementary school where Chris teaches to TV appearances on GMA and Rachael Ray, it's been a wild ride for this sweet rescued pit bull.
Cole's GMA Pet of the Week Award!
When we learned about Cole and Chris's good works, we knew he was the perfect recipient for the Big Barker Official Good Dog Gold Medal. And, to make Cole's trips to schools, hospitals and veterans' homes a bit easier, we were happy to send him a Big Barker SUV bed for the Cole-Mobile!
Riding in the Cole-Mobile!
Thank you, Cole and Chris, for all you do!
PS: Check out Cole's entire Good Dog Gold Medal Ceremony (it's pretty awesome!)
All photos courtesy of Chris Hannah
To get a supportive and comfy bed like Cole's, check out our uniquely designed beds, perfect for big dogs!
You May Also Like: