Deaf dog loves story time

Frankie the dog in the lap of a person who is reading "101 Dalmatians" to him
Even though he can’t follow along with his ears, Frankie loves it when people read to him.
By Best Friends staff

Frankie can’t hear a word of the story of Balto, a sled dog who hauled human medicine across Alaska in the 1920s. He can’t hear the adventures of The Poky Little Puppy either. That’s because Frankie is deaf. But story time is still his favorite time.

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Reading to the dogs is just one of the ways caregivers and volunteers make the pups’ lives happy and comfortable during their stay at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. “Originally we started story time as an activity for volunteers to engage with the dogs during the hottest days of the summer,” says caregiver Jonathan Hudson. But when they saw how much the dogs enjoyed it, he explains, “it has become a useful calming exercise for the dogs in a solo or group capacity.” Whether the weather is foul or fine, many of the dogs absolutely adore the quiet time to curl up and listen.

[Frankie the dog is deaf, blind and bursting with love]

Dogtown staff or volunteers pull out a chair and a book, and the dogs nestle into heaps of blankets on their beds or settle down in front of their doors to listen. Jonathan says, “It becomes a wonderfully peaceful reset button for the middle of the day.”

Stories with Frankie

It might sound silly to read to a deaf dog, but it’s clear that Frankie doesn’t need to hear the words to enjoy the experience. His caregivers noticed that he responds to the way the reader’s body shifts and changes to match the characters’ adventures. When encouraged, Frankie jumps excitedly into the reader’s lap to look at the pictures. (Besides being deaf, he’s blind in one eye, but he can see with the other.)

[Love is Deaf: FAQs About Deaf Dogs and Cats]

Story time contributes to Frankie feeling more relaxed, and that just makes life better in general for him. For dogs like Frankie, this bit of extra attention can mean the difference between a peaceful day and one where he gets bored in his silent world. Jonathan says, “When the difference in spending a little extra time with a dog is so noticeably visible, it is hard not to bring out the chair and one of the books.” And hey, the bonus? He and his friends enjoy some classic tales about their literary counterparts.

This article was originally published in the November/December 2023 issue of Best Friends magazine. Want more good news? Become a member and get stories like this six times a year.

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