Meet Ghost – The First Deaf K-9 In Washington State History

Early in his life Ghost found himself roaming the streets of Florida alone. Swamp Haven Humane Society found him and took him into their shelter. The only problem being that it was a kill shelter. Originally, Ghost was simply seen as an unadoptable animal. After all, the albino puppy was deaf, with bright white fur and reddish-brown eyes. He was a little ‘too’ full of energy, and displayed a lack of affection towards most people. Because of these factors, Ghost was scheduled for euthanization.

However, Swamp Haven Humane wanted to try one more time at finding Ghost his perfect ‘forever’ home. After reaching out and contacting various other shelters and adoption agencies around the country, they eventually got in touch with the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society. The Port Angeles-based organization agreed to take the distressed puppy in.

Ghost was already over a year old when he arrived at the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society. Image courtesy of the OPHS.

So in due time, Ghost was transferred. After no family showed interest in adopting the dog, the business knew to contact Barb Davenport. Almost like a routine, whenever OPHS receives an unadoptable high-energy pup they make the call. Barb began to handle dogs back when she was just ten years old.

Originally Barb took part in the American Kennel Club and the 4-H dog programs, before joining the United States Army in 1975. During her time in the military she enlisted herself in the role of K-9 handler. Finally, in 1979, her dream became a reality. In an interview with Kiro7 Barb mentioned that the best part of her job to her personally was being able to rescue dogs who might not be able to otherwise find their forever home. She works hard with the dogs and helps transform from distressed into important staples of the community.

After Davenport arrived and met Ghost for the first time, she stated “He was very focused and determined to locate his ball when thrown or hidden.” Because of this trait, she felt that he may qualify as a good K-9, despite his lack of hearing. At this point in her career Barb has brought home over 450 rescues, and trained them into become narcotics dogs, so she knew what to look for. Every single one of Washington State’s DOC K-9s originate with shelter backgrounds.

Ghost happily sitting next to K-9 recruiter Barb Davenport. Image courtesy of The Washington Department of Corrections.

Now in 2018, two and a half year old Ghost lives comfortably at home with his new handler Joe Henderson. Currently the dog is taking part in training towards becoming a drug/narcotic detection K-9 for the Washington DOC. It seems miracles do happen, as now Ghost has settled into his forever home and will set the milestone of being the first deaf dog to serve in Washington State’s K-9 history.

Ghost training with his new handler Joe Henderson. Moment captured by The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

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