Once our dogs have been matched to their recipient, it’s important that we visit the types of places and environments they will be going to once they become hearing dogs. Chance’s recipient regularly goes to church and enjoys climbing, archery and tenpin bowling. So this week I thought I’d treat him to the local AMF Bowling in High Wycombe.
Bowling alleys can seem quite strange to dogs as the noise of the alleys and the balls are quite loud and unusual. There are also flashing lights, arcade machines, groups of people and lots of tempting food. Chance was fine with the general environment and lights, while the bowlers didn’t faze him at all. He was a little unsure of the noise of the balls hitting the alley and the pins to begin with, so I sat in one of the unused bowling lanes and give Chance time to settle. When he started to relax I intermittently rewarded him with praise and treats. He soon became used to the noise of the bowling alley and relaxed so I feel he could go to this sort of environment in the future, but I will probably try and pop in again before his training finishes.
I try to take Chance on a short walk every day, but he also gets lots of extra walks with our dedicated volunteer dog walkers. They come in regularly, rain or shine. It is great for the dogs to get these extra walks as the trainers can be very busy on certain days and depending on the stage of the dogs training we sometimes have to spend extra time with them (e.g. when I took Chance into Thame). Each trainer usually has about four dogs at a time, all at different stages of training.
The volunteer dog walkers come into the welfare block and walk the dogs in order of priority, so the dogs that need the most exercise get out most regularly. They take them on a flexi lead and walk around the fields at our training centre, a 28-acre site, so the dogs have plenty of room and can explore the various smells. In the picture below Chance is being walked by Nicola Lowe.
I’ve also been progressing Chance’s soundwork training this week. He now alerts me to the smoke alarm when I’m “asleep” in bed. You can see a short video below to demonstrate how this works. The alarm goes off after 4 seconds.
Being alerted to the smoke alarm during the night is often one of the most important things for our recipients and knowing that a hearing dog will alert them to danger during the night can relieve a lot of worry and anxiety. Many of our recipients also stay away from home from time-to-time, so our dogs are trained to alert them to the fire sirens or fire bells that are found in hotels. If appropriate, we can also train our dogs to respond to door knocks for when hotel staff or room service knock on the door to their room.
To end this week’s blog I’d like to answer one of the questions we regularly get asked about the Charity.
I see you train dogs to respond to the telephone, but how does a deaf person use the telephone?
Deaf people can use telephones in various ways. I’ve explained the most common ways below:
- Some deaf people are able use standard phones with the use of hearing aids.
- Others have phones that work with their hearing aids when they are switched to the ‘T position’. The ‘T’ stands for telecoil or telephone coil and helps cut out back ground noise. It is also how people use loop systems. The sound is picked up via a microphone and is transmitted to the hearing aid. When you see a sign in public places like banks with a picture of an ear saying ‘loop system fitted’, it means they can switch to the ‘T position’ and pick up noise/voice via the microphone as long as they are within the wire loop around the room that transmits the sound.
- Some deaf people can’t hear on the phone at all, and use a minicom instead. This is a device that you place the telephone receiver onto when someone rings and you can have a text conversation with them if they have a minicom at the other end of the line. If not an operator can receive and relay the conversation using voice and text.
- Now, one of the most commonly used techniques is the use of mobile phones as people who can’t hear on the phone can use their mobiles to text or email without any problem, so we are now training dogs to respond to mobile phone alerts more and more often.
- Also now, with the development of broadband internet and webcams, people who communicate using sign language can video call each other on computers and mobile phones using programmes such as Skype, Oovoo and FaceTime. There are also developments for signed interpreter services becoming available so you can video call a sign language interpreter who can then contact somewhere and use their voice or sign language to communicate with the person at the other end, for example booking a doctors appointment.
That’s all for now. Next week I’m going to take Chance to church and he’ll get a lovely surprise when his puppy socialisers pop in for a visit. Don’t forget to check back in.
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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.