Dear Hearing Dogs supporter,
Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Carol Ann Hatt and I am deaf.
As a supporter of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, you’ve probably read a lot about the work of the Charity and how their dogs change lives. But I wanted to take this opportunity, during Hearing Dogs Week 2012, to tell you at first-hand just how crucial these special dogs are to deaf people like me.
Growing up with hearing loss was really tough. Deafness can leave you feeling lonely, isolated, anxious and at times even depressed.
Deafness is also invisible which can often mean it is misunderstood. When I was young, people would often speak to me and, when I didn’t answer, think I was being rude. Of course, the fact was that I simply couldn’t hear what was being said. If they weren’t standing in front of me, I might not even know that they were speaking to me. It was really hard – like any other child, I just wanted to make friends and fit in.
Fortunately, over time I became a very good lip-reader. I could often hide my deafness very well and get by. I found ways to try and cope and learned to live day by day but there was always that empty feeling inside; a feeling of disconnection from the rest of the world. It was desperately sad and frustrating.
However, last summer my life completely changed when Marly – an amazing Chocolate Labrador – qualified to be my hearing dog.
Marly has opened up a whole new world to me. He has given me back my independence and, with him by my side, I feel so much more confident. I feel safer knowing that he’ll tell me if there’s something happening that I need to be aware of but, almost as importantly, he’s like a friend to me and much of the loneliness I used to feel has gone.
Thanks to his burgundy jacket, people know I have a hearing loss, but now they approach me and ask about Marly – I’ve made so many new friends thanks to him.
Without fail each and every day, Marly makes my life easier, puts a big smile on my face and gives me that lift to overcome the isolation that can hang over you if you have a hearing loss.
Since having Marly, I have learned so much more about the extent of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People’s work. This fantastic charity has helped over 1,600 deaf people like me. Even deaf children are now benefiting from a hearing dog – something which could have made an amazing difference to me as I was growing up.
But it takes a lot of time, money and expertise to train these very special dogs and the demand for them is growing all the time. In fact, to train, form and support a partnership like mine with Marly costs around £45,000 over a dog's lifetime.
I’m asking, on behalf of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, whether you would consider giving a donation today to help them train more dogs and help more deaf people. Whatever you can spare can make a big difference.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter and for your support of this truly life-changing organisation.
With very best wishes
Carol Ann Hatt and hearing dog Marley
Hearing dog recipient – Buckinghamshire
(Clicking on 'Donate now' will take you to our Appeal page on Just Giving)