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Partnership Studies Case one.

Pat Preston and Harry

Age: 64

Reside: Windsor

Deafness: Acquired profound following Virus.

Without doubt, Harry my lovely hearing dog has changed and enriched my life more than I can say. He has helped me so much, not only by working for me, but by enabling me to face the future with confidence about my deafness.

Until my mid-forties I enjoyed perfect hearing, but after recovering from a virus, my family noticed that I was not responding to their conversation unless they were looking at me and that I was ignoring telephone calls and the doorbell. Plucking up my courage, I went to see a specialist, who confirmed that I had suffered severe hearing loss in both ears with a total loss of high sounds.

Despite all the good advice from the Audiology Department, I found it almost impossible to tell people that I was now deaf, as I feared that I would be treated differently. I knew I could not bear it if people shouted at me or spoke in an exaggerated way and I was so reluctant to let go of my busy rewarding life as a fully hearing person.

My husband often needed to travel abroad on business and as my children were grown up and had left home, I found myself becoming increasingly isolated. Sometimes, I would see a car drawing away from the house and realise that I had missed a friend’s visit and on checking the answer phone would see that I had not heard several calls. I was worried that people would lose patience and give up calling.

If I heard a strange noise in the house, my deafness meant that I could not tell where the sound was located, so had to search each room, usually with an awful feeling of apprehension. Gradually, my house seemed to be the place where I was most stressed and anxious.

Then Harry came into my life and I haven’t looked back. Knowing that he will alert me to the doorbell, telephone and smoke alarm and respond to any unusual noise has lifted all these worries away. I am so much more relaxed and able to enjoy my home again, feeling so much safer with him beside me.

Harry loves working and it is wonderful to see him so happy when he alerts me. I can never feel miserable when he is around with his constantly wagging tail. The bond between us is so strong that he has alerted me to many extra things that he himself has noticed. When walking down a country lane, he alerted me to a car approaching behind us and he would not leave the kitchen when I left the tap dripping.

I have to admit it was love at first sight when I was “introduced” to Harry. I just couldn’t believe he was going to be mine. He is a very calm little dog, but can also be a bundle of fun. He is the most wonderful companion and thanks to him my confidence has grown enormously. Whenever we go out he wears his burgundy coat and I am so proud of him that I no longer care that everyone will know that I am deaf. Accordingly, my life has become so much happier and easier.

During our walks and shopping expeditions I have noticed that people walking towards us see Harry and immediately start to smile. As we live in a town with tourists from the four corners of the earth, I have to say that the whole world seems to be a much brighter and friendlier place. “Excuse me, but may I stroke your dog?” is a question that I am asked often and I find myself enjoying a chat with a complete stranger. Thanks to Harry, I have met so many lovely people and experienced nothing but kindness.

My son originally contacted Hearing Dogs on my behalf and every day I bless that initial phone call which was the start of my life with Harry. He is loved by everyone and I am so pleased to see the relationship he has built with my husband – they are real pals. My family has benefited enormously knowing that with Harry’s help I can now cope so well in my quiet world.

I can never thank everyone at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People enough for giving him to me and for their constant support. Harry has brought me so much. I now do voluntary work in various organisations, which entails meeting people, making new friends and having new interests. Once again, I am leading a busy, fulfilling life and participating in events I would never have dreamed possible without Harry.

Partnership Studies Case two.

Brian Wallis & Garry

Age: 59

Reside: Chinnor, Oxfordshire

Deafness: Acquired, profound

Brian has had Garry since he was a puppy, but it was only

when Garry was two years old that Brian asked Hearing Dogs

if they would train him. Garry has now been working as Brian’s

hearing dog since September 2005. Brian tells his story in his own word:

I found life very frustrating and felt like I was in a black hole where I was getting deeper and deeper into the dark. I was all on my own. I stopped going out and lost contact with a lot of people. Due to this among other things I became very depressed and was prescribed medication. I had lost my confidence and started to find it increasingly hard to communicate with people and so started to shut them out. When friends and family came I would close my eyes and pretend to be asleep, the thought of trying to talk to people was unbearable and with everyone trying to talk to me at once, well I just couldn’t do it. The simplest things became a task like going to the doctors, or the hospital, I couldn’t hear when I was being called and so would miss my turn. You wouldn’t believe even crossing the road, one minute there would be no cars and so I would start to cross then from nowhere out would pop a motorbike. It just felt like I went from being somebody to nobody, because I couldn’t hear people they just started to ignore me and so I guess I began to do the same. There is no greater pain than being in a room full of people but being alone. It was like living in a box.

We were together 24 hours a day and our bond was beginning to grow. This has made me go out and buy an electric scooter so I could take him for his walks. He would want to help me whatever I was doing in the house or garden, and he showed me he had more to offer, which is when Hearing Dogs came in.

While I waited to see if they would train Garry, he was doing everything that was asked of him and more. Anything I dropped he would pick up. He was always looking for something to do all the time. Then the news came that I had been waiting for. He had been accepted for training. Being without Garry for four and a half months was hard for me because we had got so close. I went back to not going out only to the doctors or hospital. Eventually I got the news that Garry had passed and would be coming home.

When he arrived home we started to work together. When he had his burgundy coat on then people who we did not know started to stop us. Some people said they did not know I was deaf. We started going out a little further and soon I noticed the change in people with Garry in his burgundy coat. At the hospital I would no longer miss my turn, again Garry in his coat seemed to remind them. In the shops people were giving me more time and space. Because he is there people seem to talk to me direct. This may seem a small thing but to me it’s great. Sometimes I am sure people thought I was being rude but I could not hear them. In the house I no longer have to sit looking out the window waiting for the ambulance to pick me up. I can be doing other things. I can always rely on Garry to tell me because he is trained to do many things. He lets me know if someone is calling me or the phone or doorbell is ringing. Again small everyday things but for me it brings me more out of the box and into the real world.

Garry does so many things for me as well as his sound work. He puts washing in the machine, rubbish in the bin, picks up things, helps me to get out of bed. He gets my shoes and clothes, and he has now started to bring my wheelchair to me. He will open and close the fridge door, and will pick up my crutches for me.

Garry is bright and cheerful. Working or not, inside or out, he always wants to please. I never go out without Garry. He is my ears and sometimes my eyes. He is my best friend and I couldn’t see myself without him. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I coped. I think that’s how I became depressed as I was scared to do most day to day things, but now with Garry I can do almost anything.

Since Garry has been trained as a hearing dog so many things have changed. I am beginning to get my confidence and independence back bit by bit. Life is on the up. My box is getting smaller as more doors open.

Please consider helping and supporting this worthwhile Charity by contacting them using one of the details supplied above. Alternatively please contact us at the Puppy Dog Hotel and we will gladly give you details on how to contact Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Thank you.

Go Back

I have had some serious health problems over the last few years which has left me with depression and am now disabled. To get around I have to use crutches or a wheelchair. I wasn’t looking to have a dog but Garry arrived because someone my son knew was going to take him to a rescue centre as they couldn’t cope with him any more.

Puppy Dog Hotel is accredited by: Chiltern District Council, Pet Industry Federation, Several veterinary Practices across The Home Counties and London, Chiltern Chamber and Buckinghamshire Business First.