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(Updated 13/8/01)

Hearing dog rescues hedgehog!

As a rule, the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People trains selected dogs to alert their deaf owners to specific household sounds such as the doorbell, alarm clock and telephone, but sometimes qualified hearing dogs carry on their work above and beyond the call of duty.

One such dog, four-year-old Shetland Sheepdog Esko, woke his recipient, Edna Hind, with his typical "alert" – a touch of his paw. At first Edna just thought it was the alarm clock, but when she checked she found the alarm had not gone off. She thought maybe Esko was being over-zealous and went back to sleep.

However, seconds later the dog alerted her again and this time Edna thought she had better get out of bed and check what the problem was. When she asked Esko "What is it?" he led her to the front door. She put his lead on and let him out into the garden, whereupon he pulled her straight to the kitchen drain, which had been left uncovered by some workmen.

On closer investigation of the drain, Edna discovered a tiny hedgehog had got its head jammed between two pipes and its body was dangling down the drain. Apparently Esko had heard its high pitched squealing and realised that something was wrong. Edna duly rescued the hedgehog, who was unharmed, and released him to a safer part of her garden.

This is not the first time that Esko has helped avert a possible tragedy. On another occasion, he alerted Edna with his paw and when asked "What is it?" he dropped to the floor indicating a danger sound. Edna immediately checked the house for smoke or fire but everything was fine. However, Esko continued to alert, then led Edna to the front door. Edna opened the front door to have a look round, and she discovered that her elderly neighbour’s smoke alarm was going off.

Fortunately her neighbour was aware of the danger this time, but it must be comforting for both Edna and her neighbours to know that Esko will alert not only to danger sounds within his own house but to those next door too.