LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. — Nearly every afternoon, you can find Vernon Kerst hard at work inside his garage refinishing pieces of furniture alongside his wife, Pat.
"It's a good feeling to take something that's literally falling apart and make it look good," Kerst said.
Kerst knows that just because something doesn't seem perfect at first, doesn't mean you should just toss it out. Their dog taught them that lesson.
"My husband Vern noticed he [the dog] wasn't responding. At first, you think it's just a puppy who's not listening. But, I think Vern noticed more than me that this dog cannot hear," Pat Kerst recalled about when they first brought home their dog, Brody, who they discovered was deaf. "I was nervous at first. We'd never had a deaf dog. We'd had older dogs who had eventually gone deaf, but never one that was born deaf."
The Kersts knew they could never part with Brody and began searching the internet for anything about deaf dogs. They came across a Virginia-based nonprofit called "Deaf Dogs Rock." Since deaf dogs are often euthanized, the organization works to find them loving homes.
The Kersts took things a step further and promised to dedicate 20% of the profits from every piece of furniture they sold to the organization.
"It means a whole lot more because now we're doing something. We're proud of what we're doing, but someone else is benefiting rather than just us," Pat Kerst said.
They now own two deaf dogs and love educating others about them.
"You can use hand signals," Pat Kerst said about how to train them. "They can actually learn American Sign Language."
They sell their furniture on Facebook Marketplace.