Nitro’s Story

This is the story of the little white deaf boxer puppy who was dumped at a river in Salem, VA. This story not only has a happy ending but because of Nitro many more deaf dogs throughout our country have happy endings just like Nitro. You see Nitro is the inspiration and CED (Chief Executive Dog) at Because of this National website, deaf dogs all over America are finding loving forever homes. Here is the story of Nitro:


As you can see from the photo above, deaf boxer puppy Nitro was emaciated when he was found. This photo was taken 2 weeks after he had been discovered at the river.

 Nitro’s Story by Christina Lee – Founder of

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From Left to Right: Chris Lee with their new rescue deaf boxer Bud, Christina Lee, and Nitro
photo by Mobile Photo Photographic Arts


My name is Christina Lee and this is the story of my deaf dog Nitro. He was found down by the river on Front Street in Salem Virginia in November 2010 by a City of Salem Animal Control officer. He was taken to the City of Salem Animal Shelter where they discovered this 10 week old pup was completely deaf. I go by the Salem Animal Shelter often to take photos of the pups up for adoption to list them on Facebook and when I spoke to my friend Rebecca Custer (she is the City of Salem Salem Animal Shelter Director) and told her I was coming by to take some photos that week she said she had something she wanted to show me. I was thinking she must have a new litter of puppies she wants me to photograph but no, she had a different kind of surprise in mind. When I got to the shelter that cold winter’s day in November, she showed me a very thin little white boxer that was 100% deaf. She asked me if there is any way my husband Chris and I could adopt this dog.

Photos above: Rebecca and Nitro at the shelter during our first meet and greet. 

You see Rebecca and I had become friends through our love of horses and she had been out to our farm and knew we had secure 6 foot tall dog fencing (and a big yard in the back of my house and white picket fencing in the front yard). Our farm is called Bluebird Farm and Rebecca knew this would be the best place for a deaf dog to grow up. There was only one problem – I already had three dogs and three horses and didn’t know anything about training a special needs dog who could not hear. I told her I would think about it, talk to my husband Chris and get back to her. I went home that evening and told Chris the story of the poor little skinny white deaf boxer and I showed him a photo of the pup. He just looked an me and said “lets do it!”   Who just looks at a photo of a funny looking, pitiful little white dog who happens to be deaf and just jumps right in? My sweet husband (and huge dog lover) does, that’s who!

So I made the call to Rebecca at the shelter and in the background all I could hear was the shelter staff screaming for joy. They were so afraid someone would walk in the shelter, adopt this deaf dog, and the dog would be dead in a matter of months (because government shelters can’t screen people). The puppy would only have to get out of someone’s house only once in the city to be hit by a car because he could not hear. That night Chris and I went to Petsmart and purchased a crate, food, toys, a dog halter and leash and we had a special dog tag made with the name Nitro on it and under his name was (DEAF DOG). We wanted to be prepared the minute we picked up our special new puppy.

After our Petsmart shopping spree for our new puppy Nitro, we headed home and stayed up until after midnight watching Alisha McGraw’s ASL video on dog sign commands.  We both wanted to be fully prepared for what would be the best way to train our new deaf puppy. What we discovered in doing research about deaf dogs is there was not a whole lot of resources out there for new deaf dog families. After watching Alisha’s video, we decided we would use American Sign Language on Nitro. Chris and I made the commitment to at least learn some of the basics of ASL. A few years later I would take an American Sign Language class to better communicate with some of our Deaf community members here at Deaf Dogs Rock.

Below are photos from the morning we went to pick Nitro up at the City of Salem Animal Shelter. 

Nitro’s first day here on Bluebird Farm. He made fast friends with our 10 pound dog Tallulah. Here is a photo of them stalking each other which is their favorite game.

The next morning we went to pick Nitro up from the Animal Shelter and we also made an appointment to have Nitro microchipped right away just in case he got loose. We then drove home and did the first introductions to our other three dogs. They were out playing in the back yard within the first hour of being introduced. Our senior dog Lexi didn’t really want anything to do with a new puppy.

Nine months after we adopted our deaf dog Nitro, Chris and I decided it was time to launch what is known around the world today as where new deaf dog families can come and learn about training tips, share their happy deaf dog tales and also look through our Adoptable Deaf Dogs section. Well over 4200 deaf dogs have been adopted off our website and 900+ deaf dogs have been sponsored since 2013 into partner rescues across the United States and Canada (February 2021).

More about adopting a deaf deaf:

Getting a deaf dog out in public is crucial for building a good foundation. Here is Nitro, Chris and I at Dogtoberfest, a dog festival.

Chris and I tried to get Nitro out in public every single day so he would pass his AKC Canine Good Citizen test with flying colors. He passed his AKC CGC Test at 10 months old and started the Delta Therapy Pet Partners training class at 12 months old. Below is a photo of Nitro training at a local store.

Nitro is an ambassador for deaf dogs all over the world. He is truly an inspiration by showing the world that with love, commitment to training, and sign communication along with having a good support system in place, deaf dogs can become amazing pets. We have met deaf dog owners all of the world and they tell us every single day how much their deaf dogs mean to them. If you have ever considered adopting a deaf dog,  Chris and I highly recommend it but only if you are committed to a dedicated training schedule to build a strong foundation for your deaf dog.

(Photo by: Don Peterson – Nitro with his human daddy Chris Lee)

If you accept the challenge of giving a deaf dog a forever home, you will need patience, imagination, perseverance, understanding, education, love, and sometimes some unusual training tools. In return you will be rewarded with a wonderful, and loving companion.

Nitro and I hope you enjoy our Deaf Dogs Rock community and invite you to share this site with your friends. Our goal here it to educate the general public about deaf dogs, be a resource to deaf dog owners, sponsor deaf dogs into rescue and help find forever homes for deaf dogs in need.

Update photo above: This year we added our fourth deaf dog to our family. Meet 8 year old deaf heeler Cornell. His daddy passed away last April of Cancer. When we got his adoption listing here at Deaf Dogs Rock, Chris and I decided to add him to our own family. From L to R: Cornell’s foster parents Derek Karnes, Katie Karnes, deaf heeler dog Cornell, Christina holding deaf boston Bowie and Chris Lee – meeting and picking up Cornell to take him to his new home. 

Photo above: Christina walking their four deaf dogs from L to R – Bowie, Cornell, Bud and Nitro


Photo above: Some of our local supporters and deaf dog families with their deaf dogs. 



Welcome to Deaf Dogs Rock! 

Deaf Dogs Rock also transports deaf puppies from the South up north along the East Coast to deliver them into partner rescues where they will get the best possible start at their new life. If you would like to donate to our Deaf Dogs Rock Rocker Puppy Program to help deaf dogs in need, please click here. 

More photos of Nitro

Photo above: Over the next couple of years we added deaf boxer Bud (rescued from Kentucky) and deaf Boston Terrier Bowie (rescued from Austin TX). From L to R: Nitro, Bowie, Bud and Tallulah

Deaf Dogs Rock recognized Nationally by the BlogPaws community.


Photo above: Christina and Nitro with their BlogPaws Awards.  Deaf Dogs Rock has been awarded the top honors in social media by winning the BlogPaws Nose To Nose Award for Best Cause Blog (in 2015 and 2012) and Best Micro Blog for their Deaf Dogs Rock FB page (for 2014 and 2016).

Our Deaf Dogs Rock Logo developed in 2012.


Above: Nitro with his best friend Loki at the dog park in 2013


Photo above 2015: Photo of our three deaf dogs (in white) Nitro, Bowie and Bud, our senior chihuahua Pepe, our senior Tallulah and our shepherd mix Bailey who passed away shortly after this photo was taken (she died of Cancer). 


Above: Christmas 2017 – The Deaf Dogs Rock executive team! 


Photo above: December 2017: Photo of our current pack from L to R – Tallulah, deaf dog Cornell, deaf dog Nitro, deaf dog Bud, senior rescue dog Pepe and deaf boston Bowie.