March 1, 2017

Deaf Jack Russell Terrier Becomes Beloved Pet

Happy Tail: Hansel

“Meatball is a real member of the family and we love him like crazy. We can't wait for all the adventures we're going to have together!” –Leah P. of New York, NY

We first met Hansel when he was transferred to the ASPCA from a local shelter in May 2016. The team at the ASCPA Adoption Center quickly realized that the three-year-old Jack Russell Terrier was deaf, and that it took some time for the sweet-yet-sensitive dog to warm up to new people and places. They knew that Hansel would need the care of a loving and patient adopter, and it wasn’t long before the cute dog caught the eye of a family. They adopted Hansel in June, and it was everyone’s hope that this family would be the right fit for him.

Sadly, Hansel was returned to the ASPCA after a little over a month. His personality wasn’t a good fit for the family, and they made the difficult decision to bring him back. After his return, the team at the Adoption Center decided that it would be best for Hansel to stay in a temporary foster home so that he could further adjust to living in a domestic environment. 

Hansel running around

Fortunately for this special dog, living with a foster parent was just what he needed. As Hansel continued to spend time in his temporary home, he caught the attention of someone very special: his foster’s friend, Leah P.

Leah had known Hansel’s foster parent for a long time, and it turned out that Leah and her husband had been considering adopting a dog but were waiting on the perfect conditions and the right dog to come along.

“When we got married, we moved to a bigger place and started talking about adopting right away,” she says. “Buying a dog was never an option for us. We were ready to fulfill a lifelong dream, and give a homeless animal a loving family in the process.”

One evening, Leah’s friend enthusiastically described “this little deaf dog she was fostering,” and Leah couldn’t help but find herself interested and curiously wondering whether or not this could be the dog they’d been waiting for. 

meatball at his new home

“From her description, he sounded like exactly what we were looking for: a good size for an apartment, calm, super smart and in need of a little extra love,” Leah says. She and her husband quickly decided that they needed to meet Hansel in person­—a meeting that would forever change their lives. 

“We got to hang out with him, and after that first meeting we were pretty much in love,” she recalls. “His face was so adorable it made our hearts melt, and after 20 minutes of chasing his ball around, he curled up in my lap and went to sleep.”

meat ball on the couch

The connection was instant, and in early October, Leah and her husband officially adopted Hansel. Shortly after arriving in his new home, Hansel was renamed Meatball, and his new life truly began. Since this was the couple’s first dog together, Leah admits that Meatball’s transition into their home took some adjustments. “Welcoming him into our lives has been a learning process both for him and for us,” she says. “Neither of us has ever been a pet parent before, so it took some time before we figured out that we essentially had to baby-proof our apartment to keep Meatball from getting in to mischief.”

Now that Meatball is comfortable at home, Leah says that she can’t wait for all the adventures they will get to share. “Training a deaf dog also comes with a unique set of challenges, but the payoff has been so rewarding,” she beams.

It seems that for both Meatball and Leah, waiting for the right one to come along certainly paid off.