I was alerted three weeks ago that a suitable match was made between me and a certified hearing dog. Yipee! Her name is Tracy and she is a small yellow lab. She has kept me quite busy and out of the studio due to the full week of work with the Dogs for the Deaf trainer and subsequent training these last weeks.
Here she is on a “down” at Los Bagels. Dogs that are certified to be in public have full access anywhere the public is allowed to go; she has gone through a rigorous screening process to become certified and we both had to test out in a public setting. She is also an experienced flyer having accompanied her trainer to Minnesota for a conference. She travels in the cabin much in this same position. She is great about keeping by my side and responding to sounds that I don’t hear. The other big benefit is that people who see her working vest know I cannot hear well. Several weeks ago I had a man behind me in line at the CO-OP say “Excuse me.” several times and because I couldn’t read his lips I didn’t hear him. He didn’t bother to tap me on the shoulder choosing instead to ram his cart behind me (It’s a single file aisle) running over my Achilles tendons. I couldn’t believe it. I am sure he thought I was being rude. Who knows? Having a hearing dog would likely have informed him. At home she is trained to alert me to the phone, door knocking, smoke alarms, and also makes me more aware of sounds outside. Dogs for the Deaf are absolutely amazing. They train the dogs for months (most are rescue dogs) and place them with clients who have hearing loss or are deaf. They have recently been training dogs for children on the autism spectrum. They provide lifetime follow-up help and guidance to make sure the we are achieving maximum benefit from each other. My last dog had behavior problems around some men which didn’t manifest during the training. They worked with me for months to try to address the problem and finally the decision was made to decertify and re-home him. It broke my heart but was the best thing for him. Dogs for the Deaf take care of their dogs — I just cannot say enough about them. I am VERY grateful. Isn’t she a doll?