MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - For over 10 years, Patricia Belt has turned her love for deaf dalmatians into a way to help veterans and educate children.
After a hard day’s work, Astro the Dalmation sneaks in a quick nap.
He has just spent the day at the Memphis VA Hospital doing one of his many jobs as a therapy dog.
“Astro is just a real character. He brings joy to everyone, makes everyone smile. Even if he’s just sitting there. He’ll make you smile just looking at him,” said Belt.
Astro, like 30 percent of Dalmatians, is deaf.
"He can't hear you, but he sees your smile, he does see that," said Belt.
Astro was rescued by Belt 5 years ago and makes up just one quarter of the Tennessee Safety Spotters.
Lottie Dot, Izzy and Ember are also deaf, like Astro.
"Just because they have a disability doesn't mean they can't be a good therapy dog and a companion out in the community," said Belt.
Thanks to her hard work, the Spotters have received extensive training and a variety of different certifications.
The pups spend their days helping teach kids about dog bite prevention and fire safety and attending therapy sessions at the VA.
“Immediately when a patient sees a dog, they immediately light up and so that’s already therapeutic in itself,” said Whitney Mickens of the VA.
Patricia and the Spotters are able to work with the community through the Memphis Fire Department and they are a big hit for young visitors at the Memphis Fire Museum.
“It was just a 3 minute, 5 minute scenario with the dogs and yet I think every child that’s ever come to this museum, and there’s been 10′s of thousands, can still tell you about the experience of seeing the dogs, stop drop and roll,” said Tom Harrison of Memphis Fire Museum.
Thanks to her patience and endless to devotion to people and her four legged friends, Patricia Belt is this month’s Mid-South Hero.
“I believe that that’s kind of person that should get an award. You know, someone that’s not self-seeking but is willing to put themselves aside to benefit others and that’s something that she definitely does,” said Mickens.