From Joan Steel
On July 4th we had Sue and Judith join us to speak about Hearing Dogs For Deaf People. Both Sue and Judith are volunteer fund raisers for the charity, a very important job as it gets no funding from the government. The charity has two training centres, one in Buckinghamshire at The Grange at Saunderton, and the other in Yorkshire. We learnt that nearly 10 million people in the UK experience some hearing loss which causes them to lose their sense of security, confidence and independence. Deafness is an invisible disability which can lead to isolation and loneliness as people withdraw, finding it increasingly hard to communicate. Lip-reading, sign language and hearing aids can help of course but for the profoundly deaf having a hearing dog can be truly life-changing. At the meeting we had Carol Ann with us, accompanied by her hearing dog, Marley, who she clearly adores.
She explained how he has given her confidence and independence, for example, she has an alarm in the bathroom so that when it goes off Marley can find her to tell her the bath is ready – and turn the taps off!
For every paid employee there are 10 volunteers and we met Peter who had brought along his current charge a delightful poodle called Brodie. Peter is a volunteer – a puppy socializer. He will have Brodie for 14-16 months, introducing him to different people and experiences, teaching him basic obedience and attending the fortnightly puppy classes with him.
Volunteers are needed to do regular dog walking duty, be tour guides at the centre, help out in the shop and fund raise and support events organized by the charity. The dogs are bred from the following ,Labrador, Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel and miniature Poodles and breeding dogs are looked after in the homes of volunteers . The puppies start their training from 8 weeks old . They are trained to be alert to sounds specific to the requirements of a deaf person, it may be the door bell, the phone, or the smoke alarm. This is very important but most of all the hearing dog becomes the best friend and trusted companion of the deaf person.
On August 1st it is our Pot Luck Supper and in September Mr Graham Laurie MVO, will be talking about The History of the Royal Flight.