Courtesy of Humane Society of Tampa Bay
Champ's family recently surrendered him to the Humane Society of Tampa when they could no longer care for the 14-month-old dog. Then, last week, Davelis Goutoufas stopped by the shelter on a whim, just to see which dogs were up for adoption. Soon, they were heading home together.
Beautiful, heartwarming adoption stories like this happen every day, but Champ and Goutoufas's story has an even deeper connection: both dog and human are hearing impaired.
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"As I went into his cage, he was super friendly to me," Goutoufas told WTVT. "I pet him and then as I was walking out, he was going forward to me and barked softly, like he was trying to communicate to me, 'Please pick me.'"
Goutoufas told WTVT he had owned Labradors since college, so the sweet-faced Champ, a Labrador retriever and Catahoula leopard dog mix, caught his eye from the start. And when shelter workers told Goutoufas that Champ was deaf, he knew it was meant to be.
Training a dog with hearing loss comes with a special set of challenges, but a little extra patience makes it easier. Fortunately for Champ—now happily adopted and renamed Apollo—Goutoufas is particularly equipped to meet those challenges.
Not only does he know what it's like to live with hearing loss, but he's a former adjunct professor in American Sign Language (ASL). He said Apollo already knows several ASL cues and has picked up new ones quickly. Now, he and Apollo are building the best forever home possible in Florida, where the young dog is showered in treats, love, and understanding.
"Words can't even describe their immediate bond," the humane society's Facebook post said of the happy pair. "A PAWSitively perfect match!"