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Dogs for Deaf

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| Hearing Dogs for The Deaf | National University | Professor Cortez | David Years | June 2014 |

|

Dogs are usually known as a men’s (and women’s) best friend. They provide a strong bond/relationship that sometimes other humans cannot provide. After a hard day’s work your dog greets you at the door with a smile or a bark of happiness every time. Having grown up with many dogs and currently owning one now, I understand what it is to come home to a partner that truly loves you unconditionally. However, could you imagine that same partner caring for your safety every day? Imagine a life without the use of your ears, imagine not being able to hear someone yell out to you when you can’t hear when danger is close. Hearing dogs have been around in organizations such as “dogs for the deaf”, have been around since 1977 (dogs for deaf, 2014). This study will provide information such as what classifies a dog as a “Hearing Dog”, the training that it involves and most importantly, how one of human’s best friends assists the deaf community every day. Hearing dogs alert their owners to everyday sounds that individual’s with hearing loss cannot. Simple acts such as the door bell ringing, the phone or a fire alarm allow individuals that cannot hear the sense of freedom and self-confidence. These dogs are allowed to travel anywhere with their owner after going through sometimes difficult training to ensure they are legally qualified to assist the deaf. The main function of hearing dogs is to maintain the awareness of the owner to specific sounds such as simple calls of attention or horns of emergency vehicles. Some have been so specially trained to alert the owner of a baby crying or a kitchen timer going off. These types of service animals are truly amazing (michdhh, 2002). “In order to be as independent as possible, a person with deafness needs to be aware of what is going on in the environment around him or her” (Deafwebsites, 2013). Although a person with hearing loss might go years of deaf education many still look for that sense of independence. Deaf education teaches that with the help of a service dog an individual participate into events that she or he might have not considered before. As well as additional help in daily activities the deaf do not only see their animals as tools but are close loyal companions that remain one of their closest friends. Dogs that may become hearing dogs are first tested for proper temperament. Trainers will also test the dogs on sound sensitivity, reactivity and the willingness to work. After passing these initial screenings, they are trained in basic obedience. Normal commands such as sit, stay and laydown are just some of the few basic commands a dog will learn. Exposing these dogs to common areas will be a large part of their training. Public places such as elevators, shopping carts and most importantly experiencing different type’s people will be the focus of their training. Only after a dog has passed all its socialization training, will it become ready for sound training (NEADS, 2013). Before moving into the sound training for hearing dogs there are certain breeds of dogs that make the best hearing dogs. These breeds are typically Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles and Charles Spaniels. Although these are the best breeds, there are hundreds of other Dogs assisting the deaf today (HearingDogs, 2013). The goal of sound training for the dog involves getting the dog to recognize particular sounds then alert the owner to the source or to safety. These types of training can take as little as 3 months or as long as a year. Some of the sounds that hearing dogs are trained to hear are a door knock, smoke detector alarm, alarm clock ringing, tea kettle whistling, cell phone ringing, keys dropping, traffic approaching, the name of the dog handler and general sound awareness. These dogs communicate with their deaf owners by making physical contact with them and then leading them to the location of the sound. Smaller dogs will jump on a person’s leg or lap to alert their partner, while large dogs will seek out a person’s hand with their wet nose (NEADS, 2013). In the United States, Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 allows hearing dogs access to anywhere the general public is permitted. This also allows for individuals with hearing loss to have hearing dogs live in housing developments that have a no pet policy. You can recognize a hearing dog often by a bright orange leash and collar to identify them. Some might wear a cape of jacket which may or not be orange. Currently there are not legal regulations stating who is qualified to teach an animal to be a hearing assistance dog. Although most hearing dogs are trained by professional trainers, some dogs are trained by their deaf owners and family or friends. In conclusion, service animals such as hearing dogs assist the deaf community by playing a missing significant role in their lives. The dogs allow deaf people to feel more secure in their individual homes and more importantly in public. Not only do the animals care for the owner but some of the animals that are trained as service animals are sometimes found on the street or adopted from shelters. Hearing dogs continue to assist the deaf community and once accustomed to one another, will often lead to new opportunities that once were not present (deafwebsites, 2013).
Works Cited:
Dogs for the Deaf and Disabled Americans., n.d, “for people who are deaf or have hearing loss”. Retrieved from: http://www.neads.org/assistance-dogs/people-who-are-deaf-or-have-hearing-loss
Dogs for the Deaf., 2014. “History”. Retrieved from: http://www.dogsforthedeaf.org/history
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. N.D. “what breed of dog makes a good hearing dog? Retrieved from: http://www.hearingdogs.org.uk/what-we-do/Training/Training+FAQs/What+breed+of+dog+makes+a+good+hearing+dog
Hearing Dogs., 2002. E-Michigan deaf and hard of hearing people. Retrieved from: http://www.michdhh.org/assistive_devices/hearing_dogs.html
Service Dogs for The Deaf., 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.deafwebsites.com/resources/service-dogs-for-deaf.html
Start Asl., 2008-2014. “hearing dogs for the deaf”. Retrieved from: http://www.start-american-sign-language.com/hearing-dogs.html

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