A dog named Ghost was seen and heard around the nation when he became the first deaf narcotics detection dog in the country.
Ghost, an all-white pit bull terrier mix, was saved by the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society (OPHS) from a high-kill shelter in another state more than a year ago.
He was often overlooked for adoption because he was deaf and high energy, OPHS representatives say. He found a purpose, however, with the Washington Department of Corrections when he was adopted and trained — with his handler, Joe Henderson — to become a narcotics detection dog.
“This is a dog that everybody passed up because (people were) afraid he was not trainable,” OPHS executive director Luanne Hinkle said.
What separates Ghost from other dogs, is the fact that he is “ball-motivated,” a trait K-9 trainers look for in recruiting canine detectives.
OPHS veterinarian Dr. Susy Zsustiak recommended an evaluation to Barbara Davenport from the Washington Department of Corrections, and noticed that Ghost did not evoke many typical traits of deaf dogs, according to a press release from the Petco Foundation.
Ghost was then brought to Henderson for certification training. Together, he and Ghost developed a sign language only they could understand.
Henderson and Ghost spent 300 hours in training to certify Ghost to become a narcotics detection dog and Henderson’s canine partner.
“I literally could not do my job without him,” Henderson said in Ghost’s story posted on the Petco Foundation’s website. “Not only is his career special, Ghost is the very first deaf drug-sniffing detective in the entire nation.”
Ghost’s story was submitted to the Petco Foundation’s annual Holiday Wishes grant campaign through OPHS and was selected as one of 51 stories to receive a grant.
OPHS received a $5,000 grant from the Petco Foundation at the Sequim Petco on Dec. 1 for Ghosts’s story. Ghost and Henderson also received a $50 shopping spree.
Hinkle said the money will be used to continue to fund the organization’s operations and its care of animals at its facilities.
“This is the first time (OPHS) entered and received funds for (Petco Foundation’s) Holiday Wishes campaign,” Hinkle said.
“We never submitted a story before and we are honored (Petco Foundation) saw the heart-warming story behind a dog that was not adoptable that made such a difference.”
Ghost’s story has also been featured on King 5 News and has made its rounds in news organizations throughout the country for being the first deaf narcotics detection dog in the nation, Hinkle said.
The Petco Foundation invites the public to vote for his or her favorite Holiday Wishes story in the People’s Choice bonus voting round which gives organizations the opportunity to win additional funding up to $25,000.
Voting is going on now through Wednesday, Dec. 19, and all 51 stories can be read at petcofoundation.org/holidaywishes.