Deaf Man Bonds With Deaf Rescue Puppy And Teaches Him Sign Language

Emerson, a mixed black lab, suffered a fragile constitution when he was a puppy. He experienced seizures, the parvovirus, and a loss of hearing. Against all odds, he survived and made it to the point of adoption.

At 6 weeks old he was rescued from an adoption shelter by NFR Maine, a rescue-based shelter. When he was well enough, they put him up for adoption and connected him with his future owner Nick. Lindsay Powers of NFR Maine said of Emerson: “He had such a rough start to life and he ended up with an absolute fairy tale ending.”

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Nick found Emerson through a Facebook post shared by Powers. The post appealed for a compassionate person to become Emerson’s human, as he suffered sensitive health. His brothers and sisters had all already been adopted and NFR was having a difficult time finding him a forever home. This may have been due to Emerson being a “special needs” dog, but it all worked out in the end.

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NFR Maine eventually received an adoption application from Abbott. Powers recalls liking Abbott so much, the application was processed within the day. She shares: “Right off the bat he said, ‘I’m deaf also and I feel like we’d have a good connection.”

And they did! From the first time they met, Emerson and Abbott were instantly bonded. Abbotts’ mom, Richelle, comments that the pair were ‘meant for each other’. “It’s amazing,” she said, “Whenever they’re together, Emerson is always finding a way to lean on Nick.”

Now that the two have each other, they seem to understand one another in a way that others cannot. They have even reached a point where Abbott is able to teach Emerson sign language! Instead of relying on motions and vibrations alone to train Emerson, Abbott has started employing regular gestures from sign language too.

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Emerson is still learning the various sign language commands but has so far mastered “sit”, “lay down” and “come”. He is also generally responsive to any gestures made by his new family and has fashioned his own special way of communicating with them.

Share your own stories of your rescued pets with us in the comments!