Should Your Pandemic Puppy Be A Hearing Dog

Meandering Through A Hearing World


Coping with the threat of coronavirus isn’t easy, and to help manage the stress of these uncertain days, many people welcomed a new dog into their lives. If you suffer from hearing loss and if you are thinking of getting a dog, you might want to consider a hearing dog, a fury friend who can help you hear.

Any dog can be a hearing dog, but some breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels are especially suited for this role. All dogs possess acute auditory systems and naturally hear more than humans do, which makes these fine animals perfect hearing helpmates. To be considered for training, dogs must have the perfect personality, the right combination of sociability and independence. These dogs must be able to be personable with their owners and be able to ignore other people and other dogs, particularly when in crowds.

Hearing dogs are trained to alert their owners to sounds that matter most. The list might include oven timers, doorbells, telephones ringing, and water running. Think of what it sounds like when a set of keys lands on concrete. Now consider the sound of that same set of keys falling on a mattress. Through their schooling, a hearing dog would come to distinguish both sounds. Not all household sounds are important. For instance, a hearing dog would learn to ignore the footsteps of another family member.

When hearing a noise, a hearing dog nudges their owners or climbs onto their laps. Once you rise, the dog guides you to the source of the sound. Hearing dogs are not trained to alert their owners to every noise. They will only alert you to the sounds inside your home that you need to hear. When outside, you will follow the dog’s visual cues and body language to see where sound is coming from. Upon request, hearing dogs can be taught to discern external environmental sounds such as sirens and other auditory cues that could affect driving or walking.

Only those 18 years old or older can qualify for a hearing dog. You also have to be deaf, or have a severe or profound hearing loss in both ears. You have to love dogs and be without other pets. You need to possess the financial means to care for the dog and be physically able to walk and exercise the dog daily.

Hearing dogs can be good companions, but owners should keep in mind that these dogs are always on duty. They must never be separated from their owners for more than four hours at a time. In public and as service dogs, these animals are leashed and wear bright orange vests.

Hearing dogs can be purchased from private kennels. One can apply for dogs from organizations such as Dogs For Better Lives, Paws For A Cause, 4 Paws For Ability, and Canine Companions. These organizations have websites that include information about how to apply for a dog. It can take one year from application to receiving a dog.

A hearing dog might help you meander through the hearing world, particularly if you live alone. The dog could enhance the quality of your hearing life. Before you jump in and apply for a hearing dog, you should make sure that you are willing to commit to and care for these wonderful companions.

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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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