Crocker is an unusual crossbreed – he is a mixture of an American cocker spaniel and miniature poodle – and he and his six siblings were donated to Hearing Dogs for training. In April 2008, Crocker was placed with Jit Parmar in Nottinghamshire, and they have proved to be the perfect match.
Jit worked for many years as a consultant. When he was given the all-clear after a health scare, he started working very long hours convinced he was “invincible”, and eventually the obsession with work resulted in the end of his marriage. He then started to notice a rapid deterioration in his hearing, becoming severely deaf over just a few months.
Life got even worse when he lost all his goods and money in a burglary and he resigned from work in May 2007. “I lost everything including my dignity and self-confidence,” he explains. “I was prescribed sleeping pills as I could not cope, and I had to keep my hearing aids in all day and night to guard my home – I was scared my house would be broken into again. I was scared I could set the house on fire because I cannot smell anything nor can I hear the smoke alarm. I became a depressed reclusive.”
It was at sign language classes that he met Don who had hearing dog Mitchell, and they became friends. He quickly learned that having a hearing dog was a real bonus. “Suddenly being deaf was not a stigma – in fact it was cool to be deaf. I wanted to be cool too with a hearing dog of my own so I applied.” 18 months later Jit brought Crocker home.
Jit’s life has completely changed since Crocker arrived and has even got him thinking about a possible new business venture. “Whenever we go to the shops, all the female assistants make a big fuss of Crocker, and he laps it up like there is no tomorrow – leaving me wishing if it could be my turn to get fussed next! Crocker is a good companion and an exact match for me: we share the same sense of humour … and hair colour! I think Hearing Dogs should extend their business to include matching all the owners of the dogs with each other. Is there a female hearing dog owner who will be a match for Crocker and me???”
In addition to alerting Jit to the sounds for which he has been trained, Crocker really helps Jit to feel safe in his own home. “When Crocker appears restless in the house, I ask him ‘What is it?’ and he takes me to the door. When I look outside there are usually people or kids outside my gate. I find this very reassuring and feel much safer.
He does the same when the mail is delivered. Having Crocker makes others aware of my deafness and people no longer think I am ignoring them, or worse still that I am stupid. He has also got me going out. He wants to go out in cars, trains, buses, walks and shops, and suddenly staying in has become boring. I am a member of various clubs and go to all sorts of events and outings. I just cannot imagine now how I found time to become reclusive and depressed.
“Before I had Crocker, not a single day went by when I did not think about my deafness: now I hardly realise I am deaf.”
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