Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What was that you said?

Those of you that know me well know I have a severe hearing loss. I was born with a hearing loss, but it has progressed to what the docs are calling a “profound” loss these days. The last time I was in the office they suggested I consider mitigation options. It was suggested that I apply for a hearing dog.

There are all types of assistance dogs – service doges, facility dogs, dogs that help folks that are blind, and dogs that help people with hearing issues. Hearing dogs are specially bred Labrador and Golden Retrievers who alert partners to key sounds by making physical contact such as nudging the leg or arm. Among the many sounds hearing dogs are trained to recognize and respond to the sound of a doorbell, alarm clock, someone calling my name or a smoke alarm. They can alert me to wild animals present, such as moose and bears.

Pups in training (Photo: CCI.org)
It turns out that applying for an assistance dog is more complicated then applying for U.S. Citizenship.  I started the process last August, and I’m still working on it. The process is lengthy, because not everyone is suited for an assistance dog. In addition, the folks that spend all this time training and caring for the dogs want to make sure that the dog ends up in a place where it will thrive, be taken care of and grow with the owner.  There are many folks that apply for a hearing dog each year, but through the organization I have been working with, there are only two training centers in the country that specialize in hearing dog training, and only 30 folks are fortunate to get a dog each year.

I say all of this, because after several months of screening, I was officially notified that I been accepted as a candidate for a hearing dog from Canine Companions For Independence. It takes nearly two years to raise a dog from a pup and give it base training for this type of skills. The wait to get a pooch can be many months out. I am just thrilled to make the list! Here is a video link for the latest batch of puppies.

Video streaming by Ustream

Can't wait!