Hearing dogs puppy
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Hearing Dogs: A life-changing partnership

Contributed by James Pocock

06/05/2022 • 5 min read

Our charity partner, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, train clever dogs to work alongside deaf people, and the charity currently has almost 1,000 working hearing dog partnerships nationwide. We share a common purpose with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, in offering life-changing solutions to those people affected by hearing loss. The charity caters for the wider needs of those with a profound hearing loss, an area we feel is vitally important and in need of greater support.

Hearing Dogs was founded in 1982 by Lady Beatrice Wright and Dr Bruce Fogle. Dr Fogle, a veterinarian and author, says, “Over the years, it’s become obvious to me that our amazing dogs provide more than just ‘ears’. Animals feel what we’re feeling. We understand each other.”

Bruce Fogle with dog

Dr Fogle recalls a story of a German Shepherd dog he was helping many years ago, “It put its head on my lap and looked up at me sadly. It put one front paw on my knee... then another... then a back paw. This enormous dog heaved itself into my lap and curled up. Instinctively I knew it was seeking solace and support from me.”

And while Dr Fogle claims that the idea of animals feeling pain or love wasn’t fashionable at the time, this bond that he felt was one of the main reasons why he co-founded Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

The other reasons were the effects that deafness can have on a person’s life. Deafness can be isolating – it can cause people to lose their freedom and, since others are sometimes unaware of how to approach a deaf person, they don’t try, causing deaf people further isolation and loss of confidence.

Dr Fogle explains, “It’s as if a dog’s love, friendship, and loyalty is amplified because of the lack of interaction some deaf people encounter in human society. If you add in the impressive sound-work which we teach our dogs, so they can alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds, the benefits for their deaf partner become completely life-changing. Hearing dogs can alert their deaf partners to sounds like the alarm clock, smoke alarm, and can even lead them to the baby’s crib if the monitor goes off.”

Of the many sources of financial support that Hearing Dogs for Deaf People receives, by far the greatest is legacies, which account for over half of Hearing Dogs’ income. Dr Fogle remembers how one incredibly kind anonymous gift about 20 years ago “put our charity on a much firmer footing for the next decade.” If you would like to talk confidentially about this most private of gifts, please contact Zoe Cox on 01844 348130 or zoe.cox@hearingdogs.org.uk.

Hearing loss can be isolating, and taking that first step towards getting help is often the hardest. Our free, five-minute online hearing test is a great way to get a general idea of how well you can hear. You can even take it in the comfort of your own home. Or you can book a full hearing test by following the link.