Most DCHS and Wildlife Center services are by appointment only. If you found a lost animal, need to surrender a pet, found wildlife in need of help, or require another service, please call before coming to the shelter. Adoption visits are handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sep 10, 2018

Karate Chops Down Barriers to Find a Loving Home


Enjoy the story of Karate and how generosity from supporters like YOU helped him overcome challenges and find a loving family.

Sit. Stay. Good boy. These are words puppies hear often. Along with positive encouragement, these can help them grow from rowdy pup to well-mannered companion. For six-month-old Karate, this journey would take a slightly different course.

Karate made a long trip from Birmingham, AL to Dane County Humane Society (DCHS). Thanks to supporters like you, DCHS transfers in and finds homes for over 1,200 pets from other local shelters and organizations nationwide each year. We are able to provide much needed relief for overcrowded shelters and a second chance for animals like Karate to find loving families.

At first, Karate seemed like your typical puppy, high energy and a bit stubborn when it came to listening. It was soon clear that instead of being a pup with selective hearing, Karate was unable to hear entirely. Our Animal Medical Services team ruled out any medical issues and determined he had likely been born deaf.

How would Karate know when to come back in from the yard? How would he stay safe around vehicles when he couldn’t hear them coming? Training for Karate would need to include finding ways to effectively communicate with his family and keep him safe.

Karate was immediately enrolled in our Behavior Modification Program which uses enrichment and training protocols to improve the quality of life for our shelter dogs and increases their adoptability by teaching good manners and improving behavior.

Your generous gifts support DCHS programs like the Behavior Modification Program, helping dogs become more adoptable as well as giving them the best chance of staying in their newly adopted homes.

For Karate, the Canine Behavior Team developed a specific program to teach him sign language and learn skills using this communication method. Karate soon began learning signs for sit, stay, good, bad, drop it and tug.

With the help of dedicated staff and volunteers, Karate learned sign language quickly. Members of the public visiting the shelter were also encouraged to help Karate with his sign language. Alongside a treat bucket, information on his kennel detailed what signs Karate was learning. A volunteer even observed a pair of young boys sitting outside Karate’s kennel giving him hand signals and rewarding him with tasty treats.

Karate was now equipped with the tools he would need to further his training and become a well-mannered gentleman, but he still needed a loving family and a home.

After over 50 days of hard work and learning at DCHS, a family with a perfect mix of patience and determination came to meet Karate. They knew any challenges that would lie ahead were worth it to give this sweet boy the second chance he deserved.

Karate now goes by the name Ghost and has found a wonderful family to call his very own and meet his unique needs.

“He is clever and has learned a number of hand signals,” says Emily, Karate’s new mom. “At night we call him in from the yard by flashing the porch light instead of whistling. We can call him to us when inside the house by stomping on the floor - he seems to feel the vibrations and comes running. It just takes a little creativity now and then.”

Karate has also developed a strong bond with his family’s older pup, Bernie. Karate follows his best friend’s lead which has helped with his training, as Bernie is a great role model and companion.

“... (Karate) has made substantial progress since he came home and we love him.” - Emily

Karate’s deafness made him a unique puppy at the shelter. Your amazing support made it possible for us to go above and beyond to help him learn, set him up for success and find him a loving family.

Please continue your support which provides refuge, healing and new beginnings for over 9,000 animals in need every year, just like Karate. Thank you!

With gratitude,

Pam McCloud Smith, Executive Director

P.S. Please become a Constant Companion for animals or make a one-time gift today!

P.P.S. In addition to Karate's loss of hearing, he also suffers from severe separation anxiety. Karate is fortunate to have a family dedicated to helping him overcome this challenge. If your dog has separation anxiety or you are interested in adopting a pet with separation anxiety here are some resources which may provide some help and guidance.

Learn more about separation anxiety

Karate makes his TV debut on the WISC-TV Channel 3 Pet of the Week segment

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