It took couple 2 years to find out that their adopted deaf dog knows sign language

This is going to make things much easier
July 2, 2018 4:07 pm Last Updated: July 2, 2018 4:07 pm

The duck goes “quack,” the horse goes “neigh,” and the dog goes “bark.” It goes “BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK!”

There are a lot of noisy dogs out there barking at every little thing they see or hear. While dogs themselves are great, this aspect of ownership isn’t always fun. It’s an aspect that most owners have to face, but not all.

Tom and Jane Cannone almost never hear their dog bark, but they do see her communicate in other ways. This includes a language that they weren’t even aware of when they got her!

When Tom and Jane Cannone met a deaf dog named Boombox at a shelter, they knew they had to adopt her.

Posted by Tom Cannone on Thursday, September 14, 2017

 In 2016, the Cannones were looking for a dog. They searched online through a rescue agency known as the Carolina Boxer Rescue which, despite the name, serves not only the Carolinas but also Southeastern Virginia.

It was there when they saw a white Boxer named Boombox who, strangely enough, didn’t have a waiting list to be adopted. When they asked why they got a response along the lines of “it’s probably because she is deaf.”

The Cannones were touched by this revelation and decided that they would be the ones take her in.

They drove from their home in Norfolk, Virginia out to Charleston, South Carolina, to pick Boombox up from her foster home and welcome her into a new permanent home.

Boombox was about the best dog they could have asked for. She was well-behaved and affectionate. Without her hearing to rely on, she had an improved sense of vision and smell. Plus she rarely ever barked, even when meeting other dogs on his walks.

Posted by Tom Cannone on Thursday, September 14, 2017

“Other dogs in the neighborhood are barking, and people ask me how I keep Boombox quiet,” Tom Cannone told The Virginian Pilot. “I just tell them that she obeys.”

Boombox isn’t 100% perfect though. She doesn’t like dark places and doesn’t cope well when she’s left alone for long stretches. Still, these are relatively small problems in the grand scheme of things and ones that can be worked around pretty easily.

The solution that the Cannones have come up with is to simply put Boombox in doggy daycare while they are off working. This plan has been working out pretty well so far.

Two years later, they learned that she knew sign language.

You would think that, after two years with a Boombox, the Cannones would have already known about all of her abilities. Yet, during a recent trip to the veterinarian, a shocking discovery was made.

When Veterinarian Layne Brett learned of Boombox’s deafness, she wondered what would happen when she gave a downward hand motion that meant “sit” in dog sign language.

Boombox seemed to know exactly what it meant as she sat down immediately. Her owners were stunned!

If you’re wondering what dog sign language is and how it differs from standard American Sign Language, Brett has the answers.


“Sign language was developed by dog trainers for use on police dogs, show dogs as well as deaf dogs,” she told The Virginia Pilot.

“There is a formal system of sign language developed for various commands, but often owners and their dogs adapt them or develop their own.”

Lately, the Cannones have been learning this language and testing it on Boombox to see which signs she already knows. While she likely knows several, Jane Cannone told Virginia Pilot about one particular command.

“When we hold a finger up and motion to her, she knows it’s time for her walk,” she said.

Both Cannones are grateful to have a well-behaved dog with such a special ability.

“There’s something special about her,” Jane said. “She’s so sweet, and I wouldn’t change this experience for the world.”

Posted by Tom Cannone on Thursday, September 14, 2017