– offering companionship and assistance
to those with the ‘hidden’ disability
Formed by Dr Bruce Fogle and Lady Beatrice Wright 25 years ago, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People offers hope and companionship in what can be a very lonely world. The Charity provides individuals who are either born deaf, or have developed hearing difficulties in later life, with a canine hearing companion to enable them to lead a more independent life with confidence. To date the Charity has placed over 1300 dogs in homes throughout England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The charity was launched in 1982 at Crufts, under the auspices of the RNID. Since then the organisation has concentrated on training a wide variety of breeds to enable deaf people to lead independent lives with confidence. Each dog is trained to recognise – and use the appropriate alert signal for – important everyday sounds such as the alarm clock, doorbell, cooker timer, smoke alarm and fire bell. Instead of barking, the dogs alert by touch, using a paw to gain attention, then lead to the source of the sound. In the case of danger sounds like the smoke alarm or fire bell, the dogs alert then lie down to indicate danger.
Around 70% of dogs selected for training come from rescue centres or are unwanted pets. Each dog spends up to eight months with a volunteer socialiser who will teach him basic obedience and introduce him to new people and experiences with support from the Charity’s staff. Following their socialisation period, each dog is assessed to ensure he has maintained the necessary characteristics to progress into advanced soundwork training. When a dog does not meet our extremely high standard, we offer an alternative option in the form of re-homing. These dogs are then individually matched up with new owners to find a loving home.
Hearing dogs are easily identifiable through their recognisable burgundy jackets and lead slips. The dogs provide an indication that they are accompanying a deaf person, and this means people take more time to try and communicate with the individual.
This year sees Hearing Dogs for Deaf People celebrating their 25th anniversary. If you would like to find out more about the Charity or make a donation, please call 01844 348 100 or visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk where you can fill out an online donation form.