Dogs as Assistants and Hearers to Deaf People - Hearing Dogs

by KathleenDuffy

'Hearing Dogs for Deaf People' is a UK charity that trains dogs to become the ears of their deaf owners. It can mean new confidence for the hearing impaired.

There are approximately 1,400 hearing dogs in the United Kingdom and more are being trained to meet the increasing demand for their valuable services. 'Hearing Dogs for Deaf People' is the charity that carries out this work, having been launched at the Crufts Dog Show in 1982

The purpose of 'Hearing Dogs for Deaf People' is to train dogs to recognise specific sounds and to alert deaf people when they hear them. Such sounds can be in the home, the workplace or a public area.

A Short History of 'Hearing Dogs for Deaf People'

New Kennel Runs, Hearing Dogs, Saunderton
New Kennel Runs, Hearing Dogs, Saunderton

The idea for hearing dogs originated in the United States.

Lee Bustad, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University had come over to the United Kingdom in 1979 to give a talk to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association International Symposium.

His mention of the way dogs in the United States were used to help deaf people drew the attention of Dr Bruce Fogle, a veterinary surgeon. He in turn contacted Lady Wright of the Royal National Institue for the Deaf who was keen on the idea. However, funding would be a major problem.

But after visits to the States, funding from generous donors began to appear and then came the offer of premises for dog training in Oxfordshire.

The project began to take shape.

 

King Charles Spaniel,  Toy group winner, Crufts 2013
King Charles Spaniel, Toy group winn...

It was at the 1982 Crufts Dog Show in London that the scheme was officially launched, with the introduction of the first dog to be recruited as a hearing dog trainee - 'Favour'.

Since then the organisation has gone from strength to strength - HRH The Princess Royal is the Patron and each year there is a Hearing Dog of the Year Awards which is a glamorous event attended by celebrities and charity workers.

But the main stars are the fabulous dogs.

After training, these highly intelligent animals help to restore the confidence of deaf people by giving them the opportunities to widen their horizons.

Deafness is not an obvious visible disability, so help and understanding may be harder to elicit. Therefore, having a highly trained dog to be a deaf person’s ears is a major advantage.

Books About Hearing Dogs

Available from Amazon
Lend Me an Ear: Temperament, Selection and Training of the Hearing Ear Dog

Compared to dogs, all humans are hearing-challenged! But it takes more than sharp ears to be a hearing Dog. Mixed companion-breed dogs from shelters and rescues have proven them...

View on Amazon

My Ears Have A Wet Nose: Acquiring, Training & Loving a Hearing Dog

This book teaches about hearing dogs - why you want one, where to get one and how to train one. It gives no nonsense approaches and dispels wrong information.

View on Amazon

Chelsea: The Story of a Signal Dog

Paul Ogden, a deaf college professor, and his wife Anne, who is hard of hearing, discovered their "ears" in Chelsea, a beautiful, gentle Belgian sheepdog. Instead of herding she...

View on Amazon

Breeds of Dogs Suitable as Hearing Dogs

Labrador
Labrador

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People source their dogs from a variety of backgrounds, including the Dogs’ Trust and the Battersea Dogs’ Home.

The dogs vary in breed and size although the charity has found that in many cases small dogs, such as terriers, make ideal candidates for training. Breeds that are used for guarding as well as border collies are generally not regarded as suitable.

English Cocker Spaniel

Other breeds deemed suitable are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

The charity also has its own breeding programme.

These dogs are provided completely free of charge. The dogs are trained to respond to the specific needs of the person they are assigned to - so it is a perfect partnership!

Series of Children's Story Books (7-10) About Dogs Rescued from Battersea Dogs Home

With lots of information about the Dogs Home itself!
Battersea Dogs Home: Misty's Story (Battersea Dogs & Cats Home)

Ruth is very sad when her big brother Ben goes away to university. He always made time to build assault courses in the back garden and do other outdoor activities with Ruth, who...

View on Amazon

Battersea Dogs Home: Bailey's Story (Battersea Dogs & Cats Home)

Emily and her mom have decided to go to Battersea Dogs Home to find the perfect present for her granny, whose own dog has recently passed away. Emily immediately knows that Bail...

View on Amazon

Battersea Dogs Home: Max's Story (Battersea Dogs & Cats Home)

Olivia is delighted when her parents take her to Battersea Dogs Home to choose a puppy—and when she is introduced to Max the golden Labrador retriever she falls head over heels ...

View on Amazon

Training a Hearing Dog

 

Training a hearing dog is intensive and is divided up into three important stages:

 

1. During this first stage the dog learns to socialise by  going out regularly with one of the charity’s volunteers. By mingling with  people in crowded places, becoming aware of busy roads and traffic and the accompanying sounds, the dog becomes attuned to the general noise and      hubbub of a chaotic environment.

 2. Then for the next four months the dog learns about  specific sounds which will be tailored to the needs of its future owner, such as an alarm clock, a baby’s cry, the doorbell, etc. By tuning in to      these sounds the dog can alert the owner to take any action necessary.

 3. The last stage is spent in the owner’s home,  becoming familiar with the daily routine and the owner’s needs. The hearing dog will become a vital part of the deaf person’s life – a lifeline to a world  that can often be perceived as fragmented and isolating

When a dog is fully trained and able to accompany its owner on trips outside the home it will be wearing a distinctive burgundy jacket. This will alert well-meaning people who might want to pat the dog that this is a working dog, doing a great job and should, therefore, not be disturbed.

Helpful Service Dog Items

SERVICE DOG In Training Medical Alert 2.5 x 5 inch Sew-on Black Rim Patch

This Sew-on Patch is printed on lightweight polyester fabric using Dye-Sublimation technology, so the graphic won't crack or fade like heat transfers. The graphics look and feel...

View on Amazon

SERVICE DOG ASK to PET Medical Alert 2.5 x 5 inch RED Sew-on Black Rim Patch

This Sew-on Patch is printed on lightweight polyester fabric using Dye-Sublimation technology, so the graphic won't crack or fade like heat transfers. The graphics look and feel...

View on Amazon

Service Dog Cards - 50 Service Dog Information Cards State Your Rights

These Service Dog Information Cards explain your rights and legal penalties for not complying. Lots of people still don't know what a service dog is. You get 50 for only $9.95. ...

View on Amazon

Visit the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People Headquarters

Headquarters Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
Headquarters Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

The charity’s headquarters is in a beautifully converted stud farm called The Grange, near Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire. The public is invited in every Thursday afternoon from February to December when guided tours take place. During the tour the public can meet the dogs, watch them being trained and witness a hearing dog demonstration.

For much more information about Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, including visiting The Grange, various fund-raising activities and information about applying for a hearing dog, visit the charity’s website. Here there is also information about volunteering opportunities.

Source:

"I learnt to listen when I became deaf" by Carole Richardson in Yours (issue 089, May 2010)

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People official website.

 

Updated: 07/12/2014, KathleenDuffy
 
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KathleenDuffy on 07/15/2013

PurposeEmbraced - Yes, it's an amazing charity! And the work those people carry out in training the dogs is admirable. Glad you liked it! :)

Guest on 07/15/2013

This is really a wonderful initiative for the benefit of the deaf community in the United kingdom. Unfortunately this service is not available in some countries. Thanks for sharing Kathleen.

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