There are so many different types of service dogs that are trained to help their handlers stay safe, avoid potentially harmful or dangerous situations and assist them in their time of need. A few of these amazing service companions include Seeing Eye dogs, diabetic alert dogs, severe allergy alert dogs and seizure assistance dogs. What many people don’t know is that there are also dogs that are trained specifically to assist the deaf and hard-of-hearing – hearing dogs.
Hearing dogs are trained to assist their deaf or hard-of-hearing handler by alerting them of important sounds, such as doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones or alarm clocks. Hearing dogs are also trained to listen for sounds often heard outside the home, including sirens and the sound of someone calling their handlers’ name. When the dog hears a particular sound that they have been trained to react to, the oven timer for example, they will alert their handler by physically communicating with them and leading them over to the source of the noise.
Having a hearing dog around the home gives a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual a sense of independence and safety, which is important to their overall wellbeing. Hearing dogs are paired with a handler to provide sound awareness, however the dog offers so much more in the form of companionship and love.
There are numerous companies around the globe that train dogs of various breeds to be responsible, reactive and loyal hearing dogs. Service Dogs, Inc., a nonprofit organization located in Dripping Springs, Texas, rescues homeless dogs from shelters and trains them to be either hearing or service dogs. The dogs are trained for approximately one year and then paired with an eligible person at no cost to the person in need.
There is no one specific breed that make for a great hearing dog. Most of Service Dogs’ hearing dogs are adopted from a shelter at a young age and are small to medium in size (30-50 pounds). Their temperament and willingness to learn is the most important trait rather than if they are purebred or mixed breed.
Texas residents who are interested in finding out more about Service Dogs’ hearing and service dogs or would like to put in an application can visit www.servicedogs.org.