VINELAND, NJ (CBS) – Meet Cole the Deaf Dog. He lives by the words on his harness – “best friend”.
Students at Dr. William Mennies Elementary School in Vineland will tell you that Cole is their best friend and a superhero, helping them overcome so much.
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Cole may be deaf, but he helps people hear his message: A disability isn’t a disability, it’s a superpower.
Chris Hannah, music teacher at Dr. William Mennies Elementary School in Vineland, is the owner of Cole. Hannah decided in 2017 that he wanted to adopt a rescue dog.
He ran into Cole, a deaf pit bull.
While at the shelter waiting to meet him, Hannah heard someone describe Cole as “broken” and forwarded it because he was deaf.
Hannah felt a connection with Cole and knew this was the dog for him.
Hannah started telling her students about Cole and they even created a comic book about him. He began teaching Cole Sign Language and became a certified therapy dog.
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As a therapy dog, Cole works alongside his father, a music teacher at Dr William Mennies, every day. The school has created a unique socio-emotional learning program called the Team Cole Project.
Through his work in schools and traveling congregations across the region, Cole empowers children to embrace their differences and teaches them to never judge a book by its cover.
During the pandemic, Cole jumped into the “Cole Mobile”. He and his father made weekly car tours of his school and community neighborhoods.
Cole also volunteers at the NJ Veterans Memorial Home and is also a palliative therapy dog.
Cole is a semi-finalist of the American Humane Hero Dog Awards.
Click here to vote for Cole.
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Reporting by CBS3 photojournalist James Ward. Watch the video to learn more about Cole’s story.