Deaf puppy in Savannah eying bright future

BySam Bauman|April 15, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT - Updated April 16 at 10:39 AM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Operation New Hope, which pairs inmates at the Chatham County Jail with dogs looking to be adopted, has been going strong for more than 10 years now.

In that time, the program has seen plenty of success and just about every type of dog. Well, almost every type.

“He loves to play; I mean he’s a puppy right now,” says Chatham County Jail inmate Monika Jones of 6-month-old lab mix Tinker.

“He’s very loving, he loves chasing balls. He’s just a typical dog,” said Jones.

But the truth is there is something different about Tinker.

“This is our first deaf dog,” Jones says.

Which to some might make him less desirable, but at Operation New Hope, he’s a perfect fit.

“You know, we think everything deserves a chance in this world,” said Sheriff John Wilcher.

Of course, opportunity is all about what you do with it.

“Everything is challenging in life. It’s just about how you put an effort forward,” Sheriff Wilcher adds.

Training Tinker certainly takes a bit of extra effort.

“It is frustrating at times but really it’s all about how you look at it,” and Jones looks at it as a chance to grow.

“Having the opportunity to train a deaf dog is just broadening the things I never thought I could do and just broadening my work ethic.”

Working with Tinker to communicate through hand motions.

Monika Jones trains with Tinker (Source: Sam Bauman WTOC)

“To have him go down, it’s moving your hand down to the ground.”

Lessons made easier thanks to a willing student says Jones, “it’s almost like I can tell he wants to learn or see what’s going on. He’s very nosey.”

But perhaps it’s Tinker’s deafness that allows him to ignore what others might say and help him see more clearly what he can become.

A lesson it seems he was teaching others along the way.

“When I get out of here I’m blessed with a lot of opportunities I never would have had and never would have went for. Even though we might end up in bad situations at times it’s always a good light that comes out of everything. Thanks to this program it’s a great light that’s come out of it for me,” said Jones

If you’re interested in adopted Tinker keep in mind the follow special accommodations:

  • Keep him on a leash, in a fenced yard or inside. Deaf dogs cannot hear cars and other hazards.
  • Learn to communicate using hand signals. Operation New Hope will teach the basic signals to Tinker’s human.
  • Get a tag for his collar that says: “Tinker is deaf. If found, please call …”
  • Place a bell on Tinker’s collar so you can find him.
  • Use a flashlight to signal him that you want his attention.
  • Be consistent in your communication.
  • Let Tinker know when you are leaving the house. Do not “disappear” when he is asleep.
  • Wake him by putting food under his nose, or by touching him away from his face. Teach children how to wake Tinker without startling him.

For more info on adopted any of the dogs in operation new hope you can call Chatham County Animals Services at 912-652-6575 or email them at

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Photo: WTOC

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