Hogan’s Hope: Deaf dog teaches children about ability, love & acceptance

Connecticut Families

KILLINGWORTH – “What are you doing in school? Learning,” says Connie Bombaci, aiming her thoughts at a group of children, listening to a program at the Killingworth Library.

She demonstrates how her dalmatian is always learning, too. “She knows to spin, yes,” says Bombaci, also showing how Judea can chase lights and brush her teeth.

The crowd is wowed, particularly because Judea can’t hear. “Do you think she cares that she’s deaf? No. She doesn’t know any different,” says Bombaci who aims to open eyes.

“I began to say, ‘This message needs to get out there because we came-up against so many myths and prejudices,'” she says, noting that deaf dogs often face uncertain futures and can’t find warm homes.

This Killingworth woman’s mission began in 1993 when she adopted a dog named Hogan. He was deaf, yet defied everyone’s expectations. “Hogan and the family learned sign language one sign at a time,” explains Bombaci.

Hogan passed away in 2008, but Bombaci wrote a book so his story would live on. Two versions of Hogan’s Hope, one for adults, the other for children, have struck a chord. “The deaf dogs are worthy of being loved and accepted,” says Bombaci.

Judea is her service dog, helping with balance issues caused by a degenerative nerve disease. And, in a poignant twist, this grandmother is becoming hard of hearing. “She and I have become bonded,” says Bombaci, as she reaches out for Judea.

This grandmother’s message isn’t only about dogs. She’s teaching a universal lesson about acceptance and love. “Everybody is different, just like every snowflake is different,” she says. “We are all different and that’s what’s makes us special.”

Hogan’s story is becoming a children’s series. The first book is available with two more to come.

Click here for more information about Hogan’s Hope.

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