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Some people who know me also know that I am hard of hearing. After an accident in the Spring of 2010, I began to lose my hearing, and by December of the same year I'd lost 80% of it.
Most people have NO CLUE. I have coped very well with the loss, my sister and mom work with me to help keep my speech normal, and I do a great job at pretending to be normal when I am in public. Yes, I should quit pretending, but people get weird when they realize I have a "disability". Some people like to use it to their advantage, or challenge it, or make fun of it.... and that is how individuals get hurt when around me.
I have been considering the possibility of training Pilot to be my hearing ear dog. Two years before Pilot and I found each other, I had a German Shepherd that I intended to train to be my hearing dog. After a most unfortunate set of circumstances, that fell through, and since then I have not had the confidence or the desire to try again. Recently, however, I've been working up the nerve to try again. As a result, my mom bought me a book from Amazon titled "My Ears Have A Wet Nose" by Anne Wicklund.
I sat down and was able to read it in an hour and walk away with some new things to think about. It was not at all boring, like I thought it would be, and it did a fine job of answering some of my questions, bringing forward ideas and issues I'd not thought of before, and it was full of outside resources and "help lines".
It covered topics such as:
What tasks does a hearing ear dog preform?
Choosing a dog - agencies, shelters, breeders
Training your own
And so much more...
You may find as you lose more of your hearing that when the dog is with you, it gives you confidence to be outside of your home. You will not feel so tentative because you cannot hear the sounds that normal people hear.... this is true whether you are taking a walk or going to the grocery store. This was an unexpected twist for my husband. The more hearing he lost, he found that if we were in a store together and I turned down an aisle out of his sight, he would start to panic. Until you have a dog that works for you, you will probably not even be aware of this added bonus. Up until now, you thought the dog would just let you know about the telephone and doorbell - but there is so much more.
I was actually in a state of shock after reading this part. My first thought was tearfully thinking "Somebody understands how I feel..." (Which is stupid. I mean, DUH, of course someone understands!), and my second thought was that, after spending so much of my own time researching and learning about hearing ear dogs and how to train them, the thought had honestly never occurred to me that having a trained dog with me, in public and at home, would make me feel safer and more confident. Because, that panic the author mentioned above is real and it is something that I do face every day, not just when I'm out in public. The thought that I could live without having to face that feeling daily, simply by having a dog who plays the roll of my ears, makes me eager. I wasn't eager to work towards getting a hearing dog before, but now I am.
On the training, the author goes into the importance of a strong bond between the dog and human, and the stable temperament that the dog must have. It had several good tips for training your own service dog and traveling with it, really simplifying everything and giving you extra resources to study in the case you'd like more information. There are also featured testimonials from other people with different dogs and in a variety of situations, one of which Pilot and I could greatly relate to and which gave me hope for his training (it is currently slow, because he does not generally react to sound).
My mom purchased the spiral bound edition of the book, but you can also purchase it in Kindle. I was impressed by how well made the spiral bound is, and I think it will last me a long time (which is good, because I will likely use it a lot).
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who was looking at the possibility of needing or training a hearing ear service dog. It is not overwhelming for the newbie to read and it gives them a great start along with excellent advice. At the same time, it also offers something for those people who are well acquainted with the hearing dog world.
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Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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