Letter: How hearing assistive dogs can help

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Many people are curious about service dogs that assist some of us with a variety of physical and mental conditions. Hearing assistive dogs are among those. What exactly is it that a dog can do to help someone who has difficulty hearing? We know that they are trained to act as someone’s ears. If we look online, we learn that such a dog will nudge or paw at their owner to alert them to sounds such as doorbells, the ring of a telephone or alarms. Do they lead the person to the source of the sound? Yes, in some situations, but also their behavior may cue the driver of a car, for example, to sounds in the environment, leading owners to have a greater sense of security.

Here’s one personal account from an Asheville resident: “My dog let me know when the doorbell rang; she also was trained to alert me if my husband fell or needed me, and she did. She let me know when someone was behind me, especially if we had to step out onto the street. Jeez, she alerted me to everything! My subsequent hearing dog was trained to pick up anything I dropped. If she couldn’t pick it up, she would not let me keep walking; she stayed with the dropped object!”

But how are they trained? How does all that work in practice? The Asheville Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America will host someone who knows at their meeting at CarePartners, 68 Sweeten Creek Road, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 10:15 a.m. Dr. Danielle Rose is a pediatrician and ambassador for [the nonprofit] Dogs for Better Lives.

The chapter always welcomes people who are not hard of hearing who might be a relative or friend seeking guidance in relating to such a person, and this time would particularly welcome dog lovers wanting more understanding about our incredible companions and how they assist us.

— Ann Karson

Editor’s note: For more info on the meeting, Karson can be reached at akarson57@gmail.com.


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