Mets Catcher Teaches Deaf Dog Sign Language

Thursday, May 5, 2011  |  Updated 7:55 AM EDT
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New York Mets catcher Josh Thole taught his dog to understand sign language.

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Mets catcher Josh Thole even gives signals at home.

The 24-year-old Amazin’ taught his deaf dog, Picca, to understand sign language commands for sitting and staying, among other directions.

Thole initially bought the adorable Maltese-poodle mix from an Oklahoma breeder to accompany his wife, Kathryn, on Mets road trips, reports the Daily News.

Two months later, they took the pup to the vet because she wasn’t responding to verbal commands. A veterinarian blew a specialized high-pitched whistle that only canines can hear, and Picca still didn’t respond.

The veterinarian told the Mets couple she was deaf.

Rather than return the dog, as some frustrated pet buyers who discover their animal has a disability are wont to do, Thole poured his energy and skills into teaching the dog to understand sign language. He told the News she caught on pretty quickly.

“There was no giving her back,” Thole said.

Animal specialists lauded the young catcher’s effort to teach his dog some new tricks. One ASPCA worker with expertise in deaf dogs told the News dogs actually tend to understand gestures better than they do verbal communication. 

“We tend to use words too frequently,” the ASPCA’s Victoria Wells told the paper. Dogs don’t understand human language.”

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