Amazing hearing dogs
I first encountered hearing dogs for the deaf at an animal demonstration arranged by our local veterinarian. The only word that seems suitable for describing my reaction is AMAZED.
Hearing dogs aid a deaf person and carry out a multitude of tasks such as emptying a washing machine, alerting the person to the door bell and raising the alarm in the event of a fire.
Having watched the display I was in awe of both the dogs and their trainers.
Look at the image above. I know that as a dog lover I am prejudiced but how cute is that; so cute but yet working hard to provide a service.
The service that these dogs provide to a deaf person or someone who has a hearing impairment can make such a difference to the person's quality of life.
Remember that in a worst case scenario these dogs are life savers.
Hearing dogs for deaf people - As this UK charity states:
With almost 9,000,000, 1 in 7, people in the UK suffering some sort of hearing loss the Hearing Dogs for Deaf people charity is very important. It can offer the difference between retaining some independence and living a normal life or not. Sadly there is no Government funding for this charity and it has to rely on fundraising and donations.
The hearing dog's mission is to:
"Offer greater independence, confidence and security to deaf people by providing dogs that are trained to alert them, to chosen everyday sounds".
As usual this leaves me wondering how come these valuable charities do not receive any funding at all. They provide a huge service which can make such a difference.
It seems that the UK took its lead from America, as far as hearing dogs go. When in 1979 Professor Lee Bustad detailed the work already underway in America, he caught the interest of Dr Bruce Fogle. After the lecture Dr Fogle was told by Lady Wright that although the disability of deafness was often sorely neglected in the UK. However although this was the case she knew that deaf charities already had a huge burden and that there was no way they could fund a hearing dog scheme.
In 1981 Dr Fogle and Lady Wright visited the States, in order to learn as much as they could about the American hearing dogs program. With help from various financial supporters the hearing dogs for the deaf charity was launched in the UK in 1982. It was actually launched at Crufts, the UKs world famous dog show.
From then onwards this charity has progressed considerably, yet surprisingly it is still relatively unknown in the UK. The display that I watched left a marked impression on me and such events will hopefully raise awareness. This should then increase donations. Hearing dogs for the deaf displays usually involve real life scenarios with their trainers acting in the role of a deaf person. The dogs can:
Here is a timeline from the hearing dog website detailing how the hearing dogs for the deaf UK charity has developed and grown over the years:
The 21st century saw other changes such as Lady Wright dying and the charity celebrating its 21st anniversary. The celebrations included the first Hearing Dog Week. This charity has carried on expanding and these days it has some dogs trained as both a sight and a hearing dog.
This charity's army of dogs includes rescued dogs recruited from animal centres around the UK.
Training and research has recently taken place so that the dogs can detect cancer.
In 2005 the second dual purpose dog was placed with a deaf and visually impaired lady
In 2007 the Hearing Dogs for Deaf people celebrated its 25th birthday. This was held at Crufts with a press reception. Also Molly one of the Hearing Dogs won the BBC and Crufts 'Friends for Life' competition. A pilot project was launched in 2008 to investigate the benefits of placing hearing dogs with deaf children.
As you can see from this brief history Hearing Dogs for Deaf people is a desperately needed charity. The work it does is so important to so many people.
One can only hope that this and similar charities go from strength to strength. They certainly deserve to.
Source: Hearing dogs for deaf people website
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