His family abandoned him at a Tampa animal shelter because he was deaf and they couldn’t care for him. When Davelis “D.C.” Goutoufas, who was also deaf, went into the shelter and saw a 14-month-old Labahoula dog named Champ, it was love at first sight.
“When I entered his cage, he was really kind to me. “I pet him, and then as I was heading out, he came up to me and barked softly, as if trying to connect with me, ‘please select me,'” Davelis explained. I turned around and strolled back to his cage, where I petted him once more. He was ecstatic. Then, as I was headed out the door, he stepped forward and barked softly.”
Davelis came to the shelter on a whim, unaware that he would fall in love with Champ. He’s had Labradors since college, and when an employee informed him that Champ was deaf, he thought they’d be a good match because Dave also has hearing loss.
Dave formally adopted Champ after alerting his daughter and providing videos of him. Since he was Greek, he named the dog Apollo.
Dave shares that Apollo knows plenty of commands in sign language. Apollo already knew some sign language before being adopted and learned more from Dave, who is a former adjunct professor in American Sign Language, and his daughter who studied ASL in college.
Apollo seemed to be having the time of his life since his adoption. He’s been swimming, playing with his buddies, riding on golf carts, and boating on his days off.
Apollo has been warmly greeted by Dave’s family, who adore him.