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Hearing Dog of the Month October 2002

Dodger is a three-and-a-half-year-old Poodle cross, and has been with his deaf recipient, Alison Chester, for two and a half years. Like all hearing dogs, Dodger is most useful to Alison around the home, as he has been trained to alert her to everyday household sounds.

However, he recently proved that he is every bit as smart as his fictional counterpart when he prevented Alison from being knocked down in the street – an action above and beyond the hearing dog’s usual call of duty.

Alison, who lives in Southport in Merseyside, was taking Dodger for a walk, and came to a busy junction controlled by lights where they both stopped to wait for the lights to change.

When the "green man" came on Alison started to cross but Dodger dug his heels in and refused to move. Alison stopped to see what was wrong with him, and the next moment a bicycle rushed round the corner and through the red light. Dodger had heard the bike coming where Alison had not, and because of his exceptionally strong bond with her, had used his initiative to stop her from stepping into the road where she would undoubtedly have been involved in a collision with the bike.

As a puppy Dodger showed great potential, responding to sounds at an early age even including some on television programmes. After learning to respond to the doorbell, telephone, alarm clock, burglar alarm and smoke alarm, he went to live with Alison who has been severely deaf since childhood. Before Dodger arrived, Alison felt isolated and concerned about not being aware if there was a fire or burglary in her home. Now, thanks to hearing dog Dodger, she has no worries either in the home or out and about on the street.