A deaf dog’s lifelong companion is a hearing-impaired Michigan teenager

Walker Cousineau called his mother the moment he saw a photo of a white pit bull with a happy face on Facebook.

“This dog is deaf. Exactly like me!” Mindy Cousineau remembers her 14-year-old son telling her.

Then he said, “I need him, he’s my dog.”

The caption on his adoption photo read, “It’s a 9, but he can’t hear you snore at night.”

Immediately, Mindy and her husband, Jim Cousineau, jumped in the car with Walker that Sunday afternoon, July 31, and drove from their home to BentleyMich., at Bissell pet foundation Empty the shelters adoption event in Midland, about 35 miles further.

“We asked to see the deaf dog they called Puppy, and as soon as they got him out we knew there was no turning back,” said Mindy Cousineau, 42.

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His son bound immediately with the 6-year-old dog who had been dropped off at the Midland shelter about a month earlier, she said.

Walker immediately knew what he would call him: Dave. He always laughed at the line “Hey, Dave, listen carefully, please!” from “Despicable Me” movie, said his mother. The laugh line was delivered by Steve Carell’s character to a misbehaving minion and seemed like a fitting place to find the name of his new dog.

“He thought it would be funny because Dave [the dog] can’t listen,” she said.

The photo Walker had spotted of the dog on the Humane Society of Midland County website Facebook page had been published two days earlier.

“It was pure luck that Walker saw him,” Mindy Cousineau said. “It was love at first sight.”

“We already had two dogs at home, but when we saw Dave fall into Walker’s lap, it was done,” she added. “It was like Dave was saying, ‘This is my person.’ ”

Walker is in ninth grade and has high-functioning autism and bilateral hearing lossshe says, noting that her son can hear high-pitched sounds but uses hearing aids to help him hear low-pitched sounds.

“Walker could hear pretty well until he was almost 10 and had influenza A,” Mindy Cousineau said, adding that she believes that’s what caused his hearing loss.

“He has meltdowns sometimes and he was teased at school,” she said, explaining why Walker was happy to have extra emotional support. “When he showed he bonded with Dave because he was deaf, we knew it was meant to be. They became instant friends.

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Dave also needed a little more love, said Casey Nicholson of the Humane Society of Midland County.

Dave was in a house where he was neglected and left outside to run free, then he was taken to another nearby house where he didn’t get along with the chickens on the property, so he was put back in the shelter, was Nicholson said.

“When he came here, we were told he was deaf,” Nicholson added.

Dave quickly became a staff favorite due to his sweet demeanor, but had been passed over for adoption due to his deafness, she said, noting that the dog had been at the shelter for nearly a month before the Cousineau family does not show up to take him home. .

More than 22,000 shelter animals across the country were adopted at the Bissell Pet Foundation’s month-long event — during which 32,000 pets sought homes, said Brittany Schlacter, spokesperson for the Bissell Pet Foundation. the foundation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Around 7,000 animals that weren’t adopted from the event were placed in various shelters when the space opened up, and Dave – one of them – was one of the last to find a home, she said.

“Dave and Walker’s friendship is the perfect reminder that there is a family for every shelter animal waiting for their second chance,” Schlacter said.

Mindy Cousineau said that when they opened their front door, Dave wandered into the house like he owned the place and immediately started playing with the other family dogs, Doug and Darry, and Walker’s younger brother Chase, 12.

“He acted like he always lived with us,” she said. “When he walked in, it was like, ‘Here I am! I’ve arrived!’

Dave sleeps on Walker’s bed and is never more than a meter away from him when he’s not at school, Mindy said.

“We’ve noticed a huge difference in Walker’s attitude and demeanor since Dave showed up,” she said. “He is more relaxed. When Dave sits next to him, he tells him about his problems.

“I just love her – I can tell her anything,” Walker added.

He and the rest of the family were surprised to learn that Dave already knew sign language commands. They had taught basic sign commands to their other dogs years earlier, Mindy said. Dave had apparently been taught by a previous owner.

“He understands if you sign the words sit, stay, talk, shake, come on, good boy and leave it,” Mindy said, noting that she signed “leave it” a lot. because Dave often picks up things he’s not supposed to have.

“He came here already knowing that, so someone must have liked this dog,” she said. “He’s really smart and he’s really happy. And now Walker enjoys teaching him new commands.

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Shelter workers didn’t know how Dave lost his hearing, Mindy said, but they told him he was probably born that way. Indeed, studies have shown that dogs with white coat are more prone to deafness.

Whatever the reason, he’s a perfect companion for Walker, she said.

“We all embrace it and love it,” Mindy said. “He’s a fun-loving dog and he helps Walker want to spend more time outside. They run around the yard and play fetch.

Dave has also helped her son gain confidence, she said.

“Walker has become more social and he now talks to kids at school,” she said. “He even decided to join the school football team. He opened up because of Dave.

She said Dave more than deserved his usual favorite treat of freshly peeled bananas.

“He’s the only dog ​​where you can open a cheese wrapper and get no reaction, but when you open a banana he’s all over you,” Mindy said.

Walker said he was okay with getting jumped and knocked down by Dave.

“Dave is my buddy,” he said. “He’s a bit of a bed pig, but I really don’t mind.”

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