Michael, a Deaf Pit Bull, Brings Audiences to their Feet

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Michael is a star performer

In Reno, Nevada, at this summer’s Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Michael is stealing the show. Michael , a 6-year-ole deaf Staffordshire Terrier found as a stray in the Reno area, was scheduled to be euthanized but was pulled at the last minute by Nanette Cronk of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe. Adopted by Michelle Okashima, Michael has done more than his share to pay it forward.

Fame isn’t going to Michael’s head though. In addition to his role as a Crab in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Michael is also a registered therapy dog, visiting schools, hospitals, and dropping in on veterans to share his sweet spirit and giving heart. Being deaf hasn’t proven to be a disability for Michael as his loving soul shines through, giving hope and encouragement to those he visits.

Michael’s chemistry with his costar, Kevin Crouch, is a case of perfect stage presence. Michael plays an irascible reprobate who has no interest at all in pleasing his owner. Michael’s antics on-stage include tossing well-timed apathetic looks to the audience, whining (at a tiny service dog in the audience), chewing on a foot, and scratching his head, prompting spontaneous laughter and applause.

Despite his role in the play, Michael loves to please people.

“He’s a wonderful guy, real sweet. I call him my big lump of brown sugar,” says Michelle.


4 thoughts on “Michael, a Deaf Pit Bull, Brings Audiences to their Feet”

  1. First of all, an inspiring story and thanks for rescuing him. He has been blessed. I am curious if you are using sign language Deaf people use to communicate with Michael. He deserves language acquisition just like hearing dogs.

    Thanks again for giving him life.


    • Hi Cindi,

      I am Mike’s Mom. To answer your question, I use a combination of American Sign Language (ASL) and American Kennel Club obedience hand signals. I am also very deliberate in my body language with him. It has worked out well in his acting as he emots beautifully to the jestures of the actors.

  2. Oh I hope there is a video of his performance somewhere. I would love to see it. I love pitbulls and Michael sounds wonderful. His owner is wonder too for rescuing him and giving him a great life that he deserves.


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