Tom & Jane Cannone Adopt Deaf Rescue Dog That Knows Sign Language

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While adopting a rescue dog, a Virginia couple quickly realized the canine had some serious problems. Undeterred, they took the animal into their home, giving her the care she needed, including a trip to the vet. When the veterinarian began her assessment, however, everyone’s jaw hit the floor — the owners had no idea.

Tom and Jane Cannone Adopt Deaf Rescue Dog That Knows Sign Language
Tom and Jane Cannone adopt Boombox (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Tom and Jane Cannone were looking for a new addition to their family when they found a beautiful boxer named Boombox after searching through Carolina Boxer Rescue, a rescue agency that services North Carolina, South Carolina, and Southeastern Virginia. To their shock, no one else was waiting to adopt her. Then, they got the sad news that possibly explained why no one else was interested. The 8-year-old dog was deaf.

But, that didn’t stop Tom and Jane. Without hesitation, the Norfolk, Virginia couple adopted the senior boxer, driving to Charleston, South Carolina, to collect her from her foster home. The Cannones soon discovered that owning a deaf dog actually comes with a few benefits. Not only did Boombox rarely bark, but she also wasn’t afraid of thunder, like most dogs.

Tom and Jane Cannone Adopt Deaf Rescue Dog That Knows Sign Language
Boombox (Photo Credit: Facebook)

That was far from her only secret, though. Although Jane knew nothing of Boombox’s previous owners, she quickly began to suspect “they were very affectionate” because Boombox was “so well-behaved and quickly became attached to her new owners,” The Virginian Pilot reports. In addition, “Boombox watches her owners closely, seems to use her sense of vision and smell more than other dogs, and doesn’t like dark places or being left alone.”

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Because of her unique needs and personality, the couple decided to put Boombox in doggie daycare at Muddy Paws while they work. There, they discovered even more about the newest addition to their family. For starters, although Boombox gets along well with other dogs, she prefers the company of humans.

Tom and Jane Cannone Adopt Deaf Rescue Dog That Knows Sign Language
Boombox (Photo Credit: Jane Cannone via The Virginian-Pilot)

She’s also a delight to take on walks compared to her fellow doggie daycare companions. Because Boombox can’t hear other dogs barking or other distractions when out and about, she doesn’t bark when she goes for walks. “Other dogs in the neighborhood are barking, and people ask me how I keep Boombox quiet,” Tom said. “I just tell them that she obeys.”

Indeed, Boombox was full of surprises, the biggest of which was discovered during a routine trip to the veterinarian’s office. Veterinarian Layne Brett was tasked with treating Boombox at Dog and Cat Hospital, a Ghent veterinary clinic. As she performed her assessment, she was struck by a curious thought after learning that Boombox was deaf. The vet decided to see if her suspicions might just be correct. It was a longshot, but it was worth it.

Tom and Jane Cannone Adopt Deaf Rescue Dog That Knows Sign Language
Boombox (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Veterinarian Layne Brett made sure to keep Boombox’s attention, then made a downward motion with her hand. Boombox sat. Apparently, the boxer had been trained in sign language because the downward hand motion the vet gave means “sit” in dog sign language, and Boombox immediately knew what to do.

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Tom and Jane Cannone were amazed. They had no idea their deaf rescue knew a form of sign language developed by dog trainers for use on police dogs, show dogs as well as deaf dogs, according to Brett. The Virginia Beach resident, who co-owns Seaside Veterinary Relief Services, further explained that, although there is a formal system of sign language developed for various commands, owners and their dogs often adapt them or develop their own.

Tom and Jane Cannone Adopt Deaf Rescue Dog That Knows Sign Language
Boombox (Photo Credit: Facebook)

According to Jane, this was the case with Boombox. “When we hold a finger up and motion to her, she knows it’s time for her walk,” she said. Although Jane was unsure just how much formal sign language Boombox already knew, she planned to research and try other commands to see if she responds appropriately to them. “There’s something special about her,” Jane said. “She’s so sweet, and I wouldn’t change this experience for the world.”

This loving couple gave Boombox — an old, deaf dog no one else wanted — a second chance. They weren’t deterred by her age or her disability — the things that quickly caused others to turn away. Because Tom and Jane Cannone were willing to give this unwanted dog a place in their hearts and home, they quickly discovered she was a blessing, not a burden. Now, this amazing animal will live out her final days in her favorite place — with humans who love her and who she loves in return. Isn’t a story with a happy ending great?

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