On Tuesday I sat down and had a chat with Steve Heyes (pictured below) from our Communications Department. Steve is our Website Officer and has been in charge of overseeing and posting the blog on the website every week. He has also taken a lot of the photographs of Chance and I during the blog.
Tom and Chance with Website Officer Steve Heyes
Steve: Was it hard to let Chance go after 18 weeks of training?
Tom: Yes and no. I did grow quite fond of Chance as the weeks went on. You spend a lot of time with the dogs and have to get past some tricky problems sometimes so the bond grows between you as you get past those things. But on the other hand I could see towards the end of the pre-placement week that he was starting to bond with his new recipient and you are glad that he can go on to help someone. And of course I am aware whenever I get a new dog the reason why I am training them, so it is satisfying when they make it to the end of training as not all dogs get through our training scheme as easily as Chance did.
Steve: Will you ever see Chance again?
Tom: I don’t know to be honest. Hopefully. Some of the dogs I’ve trained I have seen several times since they were placed, others I haven’t seen at all. But I will keep up to date with how he’s getting on, especially to begin with.
A quick photoshoot during Chance's last week of training
Steve: Can you share any funny stories about Chance’s training?
Tom: There are a couple. One is similar to the full time socialisers story; when we were walking alongside a large pond with lots of algae and foamy gunk, Chance wandered off into it thinking it was solid and went completely under the water in a very undignified manner! Another time, on a warm day a lady in a three-quarter length skirt was admiring him and whilst we were chatting Chance decided to have a nosey up her skirt! I think I blushed and apologised before moving on.
Steve: What do you do now Chance’s training has finished?
Tom: I have always had other dogs to train alongside Chance, so next week I have a ‘dog meet’ with a Cocker Spaniel x Poodle who I’ve been training. I have started training a new dual-purpose dog with Guide Dogs for someone who is deafblind and I have another dual-purpose dog coming in a couple of weeks time. I am also helping a trainee trainer learn how to work with their three dogs. And in three weeks time there is a young Cocker Spaniel coming into The Grange who I'll start to train.
Chance enjoy a final run around The Grange.
Steve: How did you become a trainer at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People?
Tom: I actually studied media production and worked for a while as a video editor for a wildlife film library. But I decided it wasn’t for me and wanted to work for a charity, specifically a dog charity. So I gained some experience working in the kennels at a large show breeding kennels and also at a dog rescue centre. In 2004, a job came up in the dog welfare department at Hearing Dogs and I worked as a dog welfare officer for a year before a job came up in the training department. I learnt many of my training skills on the job as there are several training levels you can work through which include practical assessments, workshops, essays and written exams.
Steve: Can you tell us a joke? (not rude)
Tom: Two hot cross buns in an oven. One says to the other, "Man, it's hot in here!". The other says, "Arrrrgh! A talking hot cross bun!"
Steve: And finally, do you have a final message for all your loyal readers?
Tom: Thanks so much to everyone who has read the Training Blog over the past few months and for all your lovely comments and messages. I've really enjoyed doing it and I hope you enjoyed reading it too.
Tom's attempt to become a male model. Chance would be a fine thing!
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Sponsor a puppy
If you'd like to sponsor a dog like Chance through their training program to become a life-changing hearing dog puppy we have two gorgeous pups available for you to sponsor right now. You'll receive a welcome pack with pictures of your chosen puppy plus lots of goodies, then you’ll receive regular updates as they progress through training.
This gorgeous little yellow Labrador puppy is Isaac, who is hoping that you will sponsor him as he trains to become a hearing dog.
Isaac is an adorable, chunky puppy who loves cuddles and enjoys playing with his toys. He is a fast learner and already showing signs of great potential for the future.
This adorable yellow Labrador puppy is Indie, who is hoping that you will sponsor him as he trains to become a hearing dog.
Indie loves going out for walks and meeting other dogs, and he is a fast learner, enjoying learning the basic commands.