Take a moment to sit down, close your eyes and listen to your environment, what do you hear? The world is full of buzzing, beeps, rings and whistles. Those sounds are not included in my world.
My name is Jennifer and I have been deaf since I was 5 due to Meniere’s Disease. My world consists of silence. In my home, the oven timer’s joyous beep will sound, if I’m not careful, until I smell burning food. The telephone’s ring isn’t heard and calls from family and friends go by without a friendly greeting of “Hello!” Some nights I would lay awake consumed in fear. Until the day Hattie arrived, my Hearing Dog from Dogs for the Deaf.” The doorbell’s warm reminder that company awaits fails to be recognized — therefore, company comes and goes. My nights are filled with sleeplessness and dread that the smoke detector’s life saving blare will signal and go unheard. Some nights would I lay awake consumed in fear. Until the day Hattie arrived, my Hearing Dog from Dogs for the Deaf.
Without sound, Hattie has become an invaluable link to my environment. After being rescued from a shelter and going through eight months of rigorous training, Hattie has learned to alert me to important sounds like the oven timer, the doorbell, a knock at the door, microwave beeps, my alarm clock, telephone, smoke detectors and even someone calling my name. But it didn’t stop there.
When Hattie, my Hearing Dog, arrived she completely transformed my life. I often say the day I got her was the day my life truly began.” When Hattie arrived she completely transformed my life. I often say the day I got her was the day my life truly began. She’s has created a “life of many firsts” for me in the two years we have been a team. My nights are now filled with blissful sleep because I know Hattie will alert me to the smoke detector and any impending sounds of danger. My home is no longer engulfed by the smells of burnt food because I failed to hear the oven timer’s beep. Company is now greeted at my door with my friendly smile and a Chocolate Lab full of love. The telephone is now greeted with an enthusiastic “Hello!” I no longer walk alone with a nervous gait, my steps are now filled with independence and my head is held high thanks to my faithful companion — my ears.
Hattie has enabled me to take my hearing disability and transform it into one of infinite possibilities. My home life is no longer one of fear and dread. Every crevice of my home is bustling with sound, peace, love and joy. I am now fully aware of the sounds in my world, silence no longer pervades my soul — even of things that would seem unremarkable to most. Hattie has tapped me to point out things like flock of geese flying overhead or a squirrel scurrying across the fence, birds fighting over a newly built nest or a passing fire truck or ambulance. I’d miss all those things if it weren’t for Hattie, my Hearing Dog.
About Dogs for the Deaf
Dogs for the Deaf , Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, “for impact” organization, was founded in 1977 by the late Roy G. Kabat. Roy worked with exotic and domestic animals for movies and television and had a small traveling circus. After retiring to the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon, he was contacted by the American Humane Association and their headquarters in Denver, Colorado. A deaf woman in Minnesota had had a dog that had trained itself to let her know when things were going on. As she lost more and more hearing, the dog alerted her to more and more things. After her dog died, the woman realized how much she had come to depend on the dog and began a search for someone to train a new dog for her. The American Humane Association began some experimental work trying to train dogs to help people who were deaf, and they wanted Roy’s advice. After spending two weeks in Denver, Roy came back to Oregon and began Dogs for the Deaf.
Dogs for the Deaf was first housed outside Jacksonville, Oregon, then moved in 1989 to our current 40 acre site at the base of lower Table Rock in Central Point, Oregon.
From the very beginning, Dogs for the Deaf has maintained a commitment to every dog rescued from the shelter and to every person helped. Dogs for the Deaf is there for the life of the team, providing guidance and help to make sure every team is receiving maximum benefit from each other.
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