Deaf dog’s inspiring journey home

Larissa hugging Ghost the dog
A snow-white pup named Ghost shows us that pets with special needs can lead full lives and spread tremendous joy.
By Christina London

According to staff at the Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Bentonville, Arkansas, Ghost is one of the most intelligent dogs you’ll ever meet. (And that’s saying a lot because they’ve met a ton of dogs.) Besides his smarts, Ghost is known for his athletic ability, affectionate nature, keen sense of observation, and dashing good looks. He also happens to be deaf.

Dog’s road to a new life

Ghost came to a shelter a few hours away from the pet resource center. Shelter staff knew this pup would need a special adopter, someone patient and willing to help guide Ghost through life without his sense of hearing. So they contacted Best Friends for help finding his match. Best Friends’ goal is for all shelters nationwide to reach no-kill in 2025, and that means working together with shelters and animal rescue organizations to find every pet a safe home.

[Tips to Care for a Deaf Dog or Deaf Cat]

When Ghost arrived at Best Friends, the vet staff got him up to date on vaccines and performed his neuter surgery. After a quick recovery, it was time for the adoptions team to find Ghost his person. Just 10 days later, Ghost met Larissa. As she describes it, it was love at first sight.

“He stole my heart,” says Larissa, who has experience with deafness in dogs. She knew Ghost would fit right into her family and decided to bring this sweet boy home.

Life with a deaf dog

Together, Larissa and Ghost embarked on a journey of learning and understanding. Because Ghost can’t hear verbal cues, Larissa communicates with him through hand signals. She patiently taught Ghost a variety of visual cues (using plenty of treats, of course). For instance, an open hand pointed down means “sit” and a thumbs-up means “good job.”

[Deaf dog loves story time]

Besides using visual cues, there are other unique ways to care for a dog who can’t hear. Ghost’s special needs are invisible, so he wears a collar that reads "deaf dog" to let other people know. When playing fetch, he uses a light-up ball that provides extra visual stimulation. These simple modifications help Ghost thrive.

Today, Ghost is living his best life. He loves zooming around his backyard and romping in the snow (where his all-white fur coat blends right in). Plus, he's got a canine companion at home, and they play epic games of tug-of-war. He also showers his human with kisses, which communicates “love” no matter what language you speak. Ghost shows us that adopting a pet with special needs not only saves a life but can fill your home with incredible joy.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

You can help save homeless pets

You can help end the killing in shelters and save the lives of homeless pets when you foster, adopt, and advocate for the dogs and cats who need it most.

Saving lives around the country

Together, we're creating compassionate no-kill communities nationwide for pets and the people who care for them.

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