VINELAND, N.J. (CBS) — Meet Cole The Deaf Dog. He lives by the words on his harness — “best friend.”
The students at Dr. William Mennies Elementary School in Vineland will tell you Cole is their best friend and is a superhero, helping them overcome so much.READ MORE: Teen Victim Speaks Out For First Time Following Racially Motivated Attack Aboard SEPTA Train
Cole may be deaf, but he’s helping people hear his message: a disability is not an inability, it’s a superpower.
Chris Hannah, a music teacher at Dr. William Mennies Elementary School in Vineland, is Cole’s owner. Hannah decided in 2017 he wanted to adopt a rescue dog.
He came upon Cole, a deaf pit bull.
While at the shelter waiting to meet him, Hannah heard someone describe Cole as “broken” and passed on him because he was deaf.
Hannah felt a connection with Cole and knew this was the dog for him.
Hannah began telling his students about Cole and they even created a comic book about him. He began teaching Cole sign language and became a certified therapy dog.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: How Are Global Shortages Affecting Local Customers?
As a therapy dog, Cole works every day alongside his music teacher dad at Dr. William Mennies. The school created a unique social-emotional learning program called the Team Cole Project.
Through his work in school and traveling assemblies 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 hopped into the “Cole Mobile.” He and his dad would do weekly drive-by visits thorough the neighborhoods of his school and community.
Cole also volunteers at the NJ Veterans Memorial Home, and is also a hospice therapy dog.
Cole is a semi-finalist in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards.
Click here to vote for Cole.MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Mask Mandate For K-12 Schools Remains For Now
CBS3 photojournalist James Ward reports. Watch the video to see more of Cole’s story.