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Trainer Rescues Deaf Puppy From Death Row & Transforms Him Into A Therapy Dog

Dog trainer, Colleen Wilson had no intention of adopting a puppy, but when her best friend sent her a photo of a young Dalmatian named Charlie from a list of “urgent death row dogs” she felt compelled to help.

At the very least she figured she could pull him from the kill shelter, offer a bit of training, and place him with a Dalmatian rescue group.


A few months and one foster fail later, Charlie was on his way to becoming a therapy dog!

A post shared by Deaf DALmatian (@deafdal) on

It’s shocking to think that a lovely purebred Dalmatian puppy could find himself on a kill list, but Wilson soon learned that this particular pup already had quite a history under his belt. When she first met him at the Manhattan location of the Animal Care Centers of NYC he was a wild child! He jumped all over her, nipping at her arms.

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She learned that he had likely begun his life as a puppy mill dog before being shipped to a pet store where he was purchased and returned three times. His fourth owner had dumped him at NYC ACC with the advice that they euthanize him due to his destructive and uncontrollable behavior.

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At home, Wilson noted that Charlie behaved as if he’d been abused or neglected – and he was not potty trained at all. Knowing that up to 30% of Dalmatians are born deaf, she tested his hearing and found that Charlie was indeed hearing-impaired. She began to communicate with and train the unruly pup using hand signals – and Charlie responded.

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It took months of patience and intense daily training sessions, but Wilson was able to crack Charlie’s rowdy outer shell and break through to the sweet, misunderstood pup underneath. It was then that she decided to keep him as her own, refusing to be the fifth human to let him down.

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Within 6 months the death row puppy had passed his therapy dog exam and was visiting with terminally ill patients and their families.

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About a year after she rescued Charlie, Wilson was diagnosed with Vagus nerve disorder which causes sudden drops in her blood pressure and occasional unconsciousness. Charlie immediately picked up on the subtle changes in her body chemistry, and with no training at all in that area, became a perfect service dog to his rescuer.

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Charlie now assists Wilson in training other dogs, helping them learn to remain calm and focused when distractions arise. His beautiful, spotty mug also helped him break into show biz! He was “discovered” in NYC and does print ads, film and even fashion week gigs!

Who wouldn’t want to do a shoot with STUNNING supermodel @lindaoliverofficial #NYFW shoot photographed by the talented …

Posted by DeafDal on Sunday, June 5, 2016


Wilson hopes that Charlie’s story will inspire others to take a chance on a deaf dog. He was always a good boy, he just needed someone to figure him out and believe in him.

Follow Charlie on Instagram and Facebook – the videos of him “helping” Wilson with her Yoga poses are not to be missed!

Featured Image via Facebook/DeafDal

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Written by Dina Fantegrossi
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