A special note from our co-founder Bruce Fogle

Posted by Matt Sadler

My name is Bruce Fogle. Back in 1982, I co-founded Hearing Dogs for Deaf People with Lady Beatrice Wright. Over the years it’s become obvious to me that our amazing dogs provide more than just ‘ears’. Animals feel what we’re feeling. We understand each other. It’s a story with many chapters – one which I hope you can help continue. 

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People co-founder Dr Bruce Fogle

One example remains in my mind, of a lady whose husband had died of cancer. I had immense respect for how brave she’d been. Yet, six months later, when we mutually agreed that her precious pet had to be put to sleep, she collapsed in my surgery, bereft and inconsolable.  

This led me to think: why was this woman able to show such strength at the death of her husband, and yet the death of her dog was unbearable? It seemed this relationship between human and pet was much stronger than anyone knew at the time. 

Another example showed how animals reflect this relationship. I recall a German Shepherd dog we were keeping overnight after an operation, many years ago. I went to check on its progress, and it put its head on my lap and looked up at me sadly. I sat down close by and, slowly, it put one front paw on my knee… then another… then a back paw… then gradually this enormous dog heaved itself into my lap and curled up. Instinctively I knew it was seeking solace and support from me. 

Believe me, the idea that animals felt anything – love, or even pain – was not fashionable at the time. Certainly my training hadn’t prepared me for this. Yet I came to understand that this bond really existed, that it was incredibly strong, and that it is felt by humans and animals alike.  

This was one reason why I co-founded Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Lady Beatrice Wright provided the other reason. 

Deafness is an isolating disability. It takes away a person’s ability to communicate, freely and easily, with friends and family. And it’s such a misunderstood condition – some people aren’t sure how to approach a deaf person, so often they just don’t bother. This can lead to a loss in confidence and the deaf person avoiding contact with others, causing feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

This is where I began to understand Lady Beatrice’s Wright’s reason. Most of us are aware of the comfort and companionship a pet dog can bring. But these attributes from a hearing dog are so much more beneficial for a deaf person. It’s as if a dog’s love, friendship, and loyalty is amplified because of the lack of interaction some deaf people encounter in human society.  

If you add in the impressive sound-work which we teach our dogs, so they can alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds like the alarm clock and smoke alarm, the benefits for their deaf partner become completely life-changing. And we are committed to helping as many deaf people as possible, for as long as they need. This is often decades, as they are helped by a second, third, or even fourth hearing dog. 

Mutual understanding and support. This is why Hearing Dogs for Deaf People works. But it only exists because we are funded by people like you. Of our many sources of financial support, by far the greatest is legacies, which account for over half of our income.  

To show you what we can achieve thanks to kind people who remember Hearing Dogs in their Will, I still remember the day we received a major legacy from an anonymous donor over 20 years ago. We had clearly touched this donor in some way, because the size of the legacy enabled us to do so much. Knowing that we had the money available, we were then able to plan – something we had found difficult until then. We were able to extend our then-basic training facilities, we could hire more dog trainers, and we trained twice as many hearing dogs in a year. This kind, altruistic legacy put our charity on a much firmer footing for the next decade. 

Today, deafness is becoming more prevalent, and we need help to rise to this challenge. Today, about one in five people in the UK have a hearing loss, but this is forecast to increase. This means significantly more demand for hearing dogs and our other services, which we are already seeing. An important way we can plan, and reliably meet this demand, is through the generosity of people who remember Hearing Dogs in their Will. 

So perhaps, after you’ve made sure your family and friends are taken care of, you could consider helping deaf people in this way. If you have already decided to leave a gift to Hearing Dogs, then we thank you so much, and if you are agreeable to letting us know, this will help us plan for our future. If you would like to talk confidentially about this most private of gifts, please contact Zoe Cox on 01844 348130 or zoe.cox@hearingdogs.org.uk. 

We are sincerely grateful for everything you have already done and continue to do for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Thank you for taking the time to read this. 

Very best wishes,

Bruce Fogle, Co-Founder and Trustee, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People 

Why you might like to help

These three wonderful supporters have decided to leave a gift in their Will to help deaf people to leave loneliness behind...

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About the author

blog hearing dogs

Hi everyone, I'm Matt and I look after the Charity's social media, blog and e-newsletter.

I spend a lot of my day talking about our hearing dog superstars - it's a hard life!

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