You may recall that we are sponsoring a hearing dog, Luna, through her training as part of our partnership with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. In case you have missed them, you can read her previous updates (Luna at 12 months and Luna at 18 months) by following the links. Here’s what she’s been up to over the last six months:
As Luna approaches her second birthday, her volunteer tells us what she has been up to since we last reported.
“Luna loves her food, walks, lots of cuddles and playing with our young dog, Eccles (who is a brood for Hearing Dogs). She also enjoys running off lead with other dogs at the Grange, Hearing Dogs’ southern training centre. She loves watching the TV, especially when the London marathon was on!”
Living with another dog, Luna has been learning how to share – at first, she would try and steal an extra dinner if she could, but now she is much better and concentrates on her own food!
“Luna has recently been to the cricket with us,” her volunteer says, “and she was amazing, she laid down and was as good as gold. She has also come with us to meet family and was really calm and settled down very well.
“She has been to a few dog-friendly pubs and garden centres, and she has met many new people, including our friends and their hearing dogs in training. Luna is a sociable girl although she likes to greet people in her own time.”
Luna’s volunteer describes a typical day: “Luna sleeps upstairs in her bed. She wakes up about 6.30am, comes downstairs with me and plays with our spaniel and has breakfast. She will then normally take herself back to bed until we go for a walk. She will either have a long on-lead walk around the village or an off-lead run at a field nearby. Occasionally she will go to the Grange to meet up with her trainer or to meet up with some other hearing dog friends. For the rest of the day, she can be found playing with Eccles and having naps until it’s dinner time.”
In Luna’s last report, we mentioned that she had passed her Puppy Four Star award, which is the soundwork part of her training. Her final training assessment, which is the next stage, has been delayed as we have not yet found a suitable partner for her. Once we know that Luna will be a perfect match for one of our deaf applicants, her training will be tailored to the specific requirements and circumstances of the deaf person’s needs.
In the meantime, her trainer and volunteer are working to improve her focus around some environmental factors which have proved challenging for her recently. For example, we have set up practice sessions at our training centre where Luna is on lead around people jogging or on a bike and her trainer is getting her to look back at her handler for a reward. She is doing really well and learning not to be so overly excited in these situations. Her volunteer continues to practise this when they are out and about and every time Luna looks back at her when a jogger, bike or car goes past, Luna gets a tasty treat with lots of praise and cuddles to reinforce the good behaviour.
Recently, Luna and her volunteer went to Princes Risborough and practised the above where it was relatively quiet, giving her low-level exposure to cars and bikes and this has really helped with her confidence and reactivity.
Her trainer says: “Luna is a very affectionate and cuddly spaniel. She will make someone a great companion and enjoys her routine and visiting dog-friendly places when she has settled in. She still needs to improve on her reactivity around joggers, cyclists and cars but has greatly improved over the past few months – well done, Luna!”
This is the last of Luna’s regular six-monthly updates, but we’ll be in touch as soon as we have news regarding a match with a deaf partner. In the meantime, we’ll leave the last word with Luna’s volunteer.
“Luna is an incredible, lovely girl with a fabulous personality. Once she has got to know you, you will have a friend for life. We all, including Eccles, will miss her very much when she moves on.”
Contributed by Jo Wengler, Head of Major Giving at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People