This Deaf Therapy Dog is a True Hear-O: The Story of Karl


Meet Karl!

Karl is a canine member of Companions for Courage, an organization in Central Florida that provides therapy dogs to assist children who are involved in traumatic situations. Karl and 13 of his friends are on hand to befriend children who are testifying in court, during depositions, and in counseling sessions. The dogs (and one therapy cat!) are also available to work with children who have lost a loved one, are victims of abuse, have lost their homes due to fire or other disaster, or are sick in the hospital. Companions for Courage “help make the sad things seem not so bad.”

Karl and one of his friends at the courthouse

Karl was born deaf. Joanne, the co-founder of Companions for Courage, got a phone call from his breeder asking if she would adopt him. At first she declined, but when the breeder said she was going to put him down because of his disability, Joanne decided to take him in.

Then it hit Joanne that Karl would make a perfect therapy dog—since he can’t hear, he would never be reactive to noise or sudden loud sounds. So Karl was trained in sign language, and he now recognizes over 120 ASL signals!

When a child has to testify in court, they are given an album with photos of the dogs they can choose from to be their friend and support system during the trial. Karl is a popular choice—maybe because he’s a big guy and children often trust a big dog who can protect them!

Karl and Emma, another one of the Companions for Courage heroes!

When Karl is not in court, he volunteers at hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and wherever there are people in need of a friend!

Big Barker is honored to share Karl’s story and we’re proud that he chooses to rest on one of our beds after a long day’s work 🙂

Karl watches intently as his handler signals to him
Karl resting after a hard day’s work on his Big Barker!