This month both meetings were visited by the Hearing Dogs for the Deaf puppy trainers Margaret and Ken Ness, based in Sandbach. This couple are volunteers for the organisation and help to train the puppies from the age of about 7 weeks, up until the age of 14-16 months, when the dogs are then placed with people who are deaf.
1 in 6 people have some form of hearing loss, and this can often lead to isolation, loneliness, depression and lack of confidence. The purpose of the dog is to enable the person to go outside into the world again and to gain confidence. It also provides a life-changing partnership for that person.
The association breeds its own dogs, which these days can cross over with Guide dogs. Cocker spaniels, labradors, mini poodles and some cross breeds are used. The dog will live with the breeder until it is 8 weeks old, and then go to the puppy socialising volunteers for 14-16 months. It is trained in sights and sounds, and specialises in soundwork training to alert its owner of alarm clocks, doorbells, baby alarms and smoke alarms, and even these days text messages. It will also warn its owner of dangers such as fires. The dog is chosen to match the recipient and stays for a week to begin the bonding process.
The dog allows an invisible disability to become visible, as it wears a special jacket to demonstrate its job as a Hearing dog. It also provides companionship, which is very important to the person concerned. It is amazing how it changes people’s lives, especially children.
The training of the dogs obviously costs a lot of money and the association relies totally on donations, local support, corporate support and gifting of wills. All this is done by volunteers. Their website can be found here.
It was a really fascinating meeting, and something all our members were unaware of. The afternoon group will also be able to hear the same talk as Ken and Margaret come and visit them.
Our next meetings are Christmas meetings ( already??) with the evening group going out for a meal on the 10th December to the George and Dragon, and the afternoon group meeting on the 11th December for Carols and Readings. Please join us, all are welcome.
Ring Carole on 533882 or Dorothy on 533704 for any other information.