Vote for Sarah and Waffle in Crufts Friends for Life award!
Posted by Sarah O'Brien
How to vote:
Hearing dog child partnership Sarah and Waffle have been nominated for Crufts 'Friends for Life' Award 2018!
We'd be thrilled if you could vote for them here.
Fourteen-year-old Sarah Mohammadi was born with a hearing problem and was diagnosed as profoundly deaf as a toddler.
“As a two-year-old, Sarah was babbling away like any child her age,” said Sarah’s mum Sapedah, “when suddenly it stopped. I took her to our doctors and they diagnosed her as profoundly deaf as she had lost the hearing in her good ear, too.
“As a parent, it’s like your world has come to an end. All of the hopes and dreams you have for your child are crushed. You think; ‘how will they cope? Will they make friends? Will she ever be happy?’ It was terrifying, we felt so helpless.
At three years old, Sarah went to a mainstream pre-school. You could see she was trying her best to make friends and interact with her peers – but couldn’t. She was using her British Sign Language (BSL) but the other children didn’t understand, so they would just ignore her. It was heart-breaking.
“She became very isolated – and this became a recurring theme throughout her school years. She felt she couldn’t make any friends – and her confidence to try was broken. She felt extremely lonely – even at her young age.
“Sarah would not make eye contact with anyone. If somebody in the shops tried to talk to her, she would immediately look to her feet. She was completely lacking in confidence and felt very vulnerable in social situations.
“Sarah also grew frustrated with her life as every day was a struggle. Her anger and inability to cope was not like a child her age. She withdrew into a shell and we tried everything we could to help – including getting her cochlear implants – but nothing was shaking her out of this mood. I became more and more concerned for her future.
“Night time was the biggest struggle. Sarah always came into our bed because she was so scared of being left alone in the dark. This constant broken sleep left her exhausted during the day. She would be moody, frustrated and her school work suffered massively as she struggled to keep her concentration.
“I couldn’t wake her up in the mornings. She had no drive or enthusiasm for life – like you would expect from a child aged six or seven.
“All of this, it just had such a huge impact on the entire family. We were all so drained. Every day – every minute sometimes – felt like an uphill battle.
“When we heard about Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – I immediately applied on Sarah’s behalf.
“We first met Waffle in 2013 – just before Christmas. Sarah was nine years old and the issues she was facing as a child seemed to be getting worse, so the timing was perfect.
“When the trainer Sally brought Waffle to meet us and we caught a glimpse of this adorable white Cockapoo bounding past the window, Sarah’s eyes lit up and she said ‘Aww, she’s beautiful!’ It was written all over her face – this really was love at first sight.
“Applying for a hearing dog – to be honest – I thought it would just help us on a day-to-day level. With soundwork and getting Sarah up in the morning. But now, Sarah is a completely different child, I realise it’s so much more than that.
“Waffle has enabled Sarah to get a good night sleep in her own bed. It took about a month of Sarah waking up to check Waffle was still by her side, but after that she was getting a full night of quality sleep. It made such a difference – she was more alert during the day and her school work dramatically improved, which was a tremendous confidence boost for her.
“This little Cockapoo has brought Sarah’s personality out. I never in a million years thought Sarah would ever be brave enough to make friends, but now she has such a close knit of supportive friends – it’s amazing. That would have never happened before Waffle.
“Waffle has also brought visibility to Sarah’s deafness. Before in the shops if someone tried to speak to her, she would look away and avoid the conversation. Now – she will talk for hours about Waffle and all the amazing things her hearing dog does for her.
“Sarah feels happy – truly happy – for the first time in her life. She considers herself incredibly lucky to have Waffle. It’s changed everything for her.
“As her mum, I no longer fear for her future. Sarah is blossoming into a confident, brave and independent young woman – and this is all down to Waffle. I can’t thank this amazing dog enough.”
When asked about her amazing hearing dog, 14-year-old Sarah says:
“Before Waffle, I couldn’t sleep at night time because I was so scared. Now I am not scared anymore and she helps me sleep properly for the first time.
“Waffle is amazing. She is my best friend. She’s the best dog in the world. She makes me feel happy and like I can do anything I put my mind to.
“She is my ears, and I am her best friend. She means more than anything in the world to me.”
“I am so proud of Sarah and Waffle. They are the most amazing team. Waffle knows when Sarah is upset and is always right by her side to comfort her. When Sarah goes to school, Waffle seems to have an internal clock as she knows exactly when she’s due home – and sits and waits by the door for her, tail wagging.
“Waffle has truly changed Sarah’s life and has given us all a new hope for her future. She has brought life back into our daughter – and for that I am endlessly thankful.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supports Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. These dogs give a deaf person the ability to shine and live their best life. Sarah would have never met Waffle without your support. So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.”
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