Deaf dog is adopted by Michigan teen with hearing loss — now they're 'inseparable'
BENTLEY, Mich. - A Michigan teen with hearing loss who rescued a deaf dog from a shelter wants others to know the importance of pet adoption.
Walker Cousineau, 14, and his family adopted Dave, a 6-year-old pit bull mix, a little over a month ago.
The pair have been "inseparable" since then, mom Mindy Cousineau of Bentley, Michigan, told Fox News Digital.
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"Walker wanted Dave because he knows that animals in the shelter [with] special needs are typically overlooked," Cousineau said.
"He could be his buddy and know what he was going through — and understand," she said.
"I think Walker needed somebody, too," she added. "It worked out perfectly."
Walker was not born with hearing loss. When he was 10, however, doctors discovered he had a kidney disorder called Alport syndrome, which affected his hearing, Cousineau said.
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"And now his hearing is gradually going," she added.
"He does not use a lot of sign language. He lip reads and wears bilateral hearing aids, so they're helping."
Cousineau said that at the end of July, Walker was browsing on Facebook when he came across a photo of Dave the dog. The animal shelter of the Humane Society of Midland County in Midland, Michigan, had posted the pictures.
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She said that her son told her, "There’s a deaf dog there. I have to go get him."
Dave, by then, had spent several weeks at the shelter — and not one person had showed interest in adopting him, according to the Humane Society of Midland County.
The shelter's director, Beth Wellman, told Fox News Digital that Dave had several "strikes" against him in the shelter world, including his age and his breed.
However, Dave was a favorite among the shelter volunteers, she noted, adding that Dave was "comical when out for walks, affectionate [and] gentle."
"When the Cousineau family came in specifically to meet him, everyone at the shelter was very hopeful that finally this was his turn," Wellman told Fox News Digital via email.
"It ended up being a perfect match and we are so thrilled for the family and Dave."
"We didn't find out about the hearing impairments of the son or the reasons [they chose] to meet Dave until after they decided to adopt," she added about the family.
"It was one of those moments where you get a chill, that this was the family that the dog was waiting for."
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Dave had participated in an "Empty the Shelter" event organized by the BISSELL Pet Foundation in Grand Rapids.
The event was assembled to encourage pet adoption. Dave was one of 22,165 pets adopted, according to the BISSELL Pet Foundation, which helps find homes for animals across the country.
"During this event, approximately 12,104 cats and 10,061 dogs were adopted from participating shelters," a BISSELL representative told Fox News Digital in a statement.
"An additional 7,215 pets were also saved by ‘Empty the Shelters’ — transported thanks to newly open space — bringing the total number of pets impacted to 29,380!"
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Walker and Dave's story garnered media attention after the BISSELL Pet Foundation shared the news of the adoption, Cousineau said, adding that Walker is taking all the attention "in stride."
"Walker is very sweet and kindhearted, so for other people to notice him for being so kind — it's very strange to us because that's just who he is," she said of her son.
"When someone needs help, he's the first person to help."
Walker and Dave have become fast friends — and Dave has adjusted well in the Cousineau family. In addition to mother and son, the family includes dad Jim, sister Lauren 22, brother Chase, 12 — and two more rescue dogs.
Dave, a pit bull mix, is the third dog the Cousineau family has rescued. (Mindy Cousineau)
One is an Australian cattle dog mastiff mix named Doug, while the other, named Darry, is an American bully.
Cousineau said that Walker’s message to all is that instead of buying dogs from pet stores or other locations, aspiring pet owners should consider adopting animals.
Older dogs and dogs with special conditions or issues, he said, "need love too — not just puppies."
"And go into it knowing that they're just like kids," Cousineau added, referring to her son Walker's advice about dogs.
"There are dogs that need a couch to sleep on. They just need a home."