Some might think it would be difficult to have an animal if you couldn’t hear. Dogs focus primarily on barking as their way to communicate, so not being able to hear them could be a great barrier. Think about it, dogs bark when a stranger is near, someone is at your house, they need to go outside, literally just about everything. Isn’t it crazy to think that even though this “sound barrier” exists, service dogs could actually be of great help for those that are deaf?
Although you can’t hear your dog bark, dogs are pretty good about bothering you enough to alert you that something isn’t quite right or needs your attention. Hearing Dogs assist deaf and hard of hearing individuals by alerting them to a variety of household sounds such as a door knock or doorbell, alarm clock, oven buzzer, telephone, baby cry, name call or smoke alarm. Dogs are trained to make physical contact and lead their deaf partners to the source of the sound.
What You Need To Qualify
In all cases, in order to qualify for a service animal, you will need to get approval from a physician. The physician will need to verify if you have hearing loss and how severe it is. Generally, service dogs are used when a condition severely impacts a persons well being. Once you obtain qualification from a physician, you will be able to get a trained service dog. Unfortunately, service animals can be very expensive so it is important to strongly consider if getting one is a good option for you.
Hearing Dogs are generally mixed breeds acquired from animal shelters and are small to medium in size. Prior to formal audio response training, the younger adoptees are raised and socialized by volunteer puppy raisers. Hearing Dogs are identified by leash and/or vest. One of the benefits of these dogs is that it isn’t a necessity for them to go through the extensive and expensive training. Training is still obviously needed, but it isn’t as costly as some other service animal trainings.
Hearing dogs are especially sensitive to noises, and a deaf partner can learn a lot about his or her environment just by watching the dog’s visual cues. A dog may notice when someone approaches from behind and tries to get the attention of his or her handler. A hearing dog, along with his or her “hearing dog” vest, is often the first indicator to the public that the deaf individual may need to be spoken to face-to-face or in another manner.
Here is a simple list of how these service dogs help:
- A door knock
- Smoke detector alarm
- Alarm clock ringing
- Tea kettle whistling
- Telephone or cell phone ringing
- Keys dropping
- Traffic approaching
- Alert the owner when he or she is being spoken to
- General sound awareness
Not being able to hear can make someone feel extremely disconnected from the world around them. One of the hardest things for those who are deaf is that in public it is hard to distinguish them from other people and often times they aren’t able to communicate in a manner in which they would like. The service dog not only helps reduce this barrier, but it also serves as a red flag for others that this person may need assistance. Simply having your service dog in his vest is a great way for others to identify your lack of hearing and jump to help you.
Service animals are tremendous assets to their owners no matter what condition they are helping with. It is hard enough to struggle to communicate with other individuals, let alone the dangerous aspects of not being able to hear your surroundings. Having a service animal when you are deaf not only gives you a sense of security, but can also help you feel more connected to those around you.