Hearing Dogs and Coronavirus
Posted by Matt Sadler
Our services are more needed than ever, and we’ve adapted so we can continue helping deaf people
Firstly, from all of us at Hearing Dogs, we sincerely hope you, and those close to you, are all safe and well. We understand how difficult things are right now for a great number of people; physically, mentally, socially and financially. We are finding it difficult too.
Many people are feeling isolated. We understand this very well. A large number of deaf people whom we help have spent years feeling this way because of their deafness. Not being able to leave their homes, feeling cut off from loved ones, facing communication barriers every day, or simply having no face-to-face interaction at all, can make even the most resilient people feel isolated, lonely, trapped and anxious. Indeed, we've seen an increase in the number of deaf people coming to us for help for this very reason. And we are as committed as ever to helping as many of these people as we can, for as long as they need.
However, doing so is more difficult now. Our Hearing Dogs family does so much of its work in communities around the UK, through puppy training classes, community link-up groups, and face-to-face bespoke advice and support. All this has had to stop. And our fun community events, such as The Great British Dog Walks, have been halted. We’ve closed our restaurant and gift shop, cancelled the weekly tours of our two dog training centres, and reduced activity in lots of other areas. This is all affecting how we keep going, like it is for everyone at present, but we are resilient and optimistic about the future.
Helping deaf people and protecting our wonderful staff, volunteers, supporters, recipients of hearing dogs, and beneficiaries of our hearing loss services, is our utmost priority, and our Hearing Dogs family has really come together to navigate this unique period. We have calmly adapted, and we are confident we will overcome this turbulence with resilience and kindness. In fact, many of the new ways of working we have discovered may well continue even after things return to normal.
We wanted to give you, as a supporter of Hearing Dogs, an update on the innovative ways we are continuing to train our life-changing dogs!
Most of our pups' training is still taking place in the homes (and gardens on a nice day!) of their amazing volunteer puppy trainers. They are continuing with various elements of their training, and our staff trainers are offering remote training sessions via video classes where this is possible. As always, the pups are playing lots of games, being kept mentally and physically stimulated and are having lots of cuddles every day. Here are some photos of a few of our pups adjusting to life ‘working from home’.
Black Labrador puppy Bracken is getting used to the vacuum cleaner
Valour is keeping active with a spot of agility training
Chloe has been investigating lots of new objects as part of her early sensory training
River has been working out how to solve this tennis ball puzzle in order to get his breakfast
Austin has been practising his basic commands, like this wonderful sit, in the garden
Oshi has been perfecting his alert to a smoke alarm
We are continuing to support our existing hearing dog partnerships remotely, and the adaptability shown by everyone who has a hearing dog has been remarkable. For each of them, their hearing dogs are an incredibly valuable source of companionship and comfort during these worrying times of increased isolation. Our dogs are expertly trained to deliver a wide range of bespoke soundwork skills to their deaf partner in the home – it’s often said that our clever hearing dogs do a huge amount of their work at home! So they are carrying on their amazing duties, alerting their deaf partners to important and life-saving sounds, which adds extra reassurance during these longer periods alone in one’s home.
The Coronavirus crisis may have slowed us down, but with our innovative staff, our adaptable and generous volunteers, our wonderful dogs, and our amazing and loyal supporters, it won’t stop us helping as many deaf people as we can.
We have a fantastic group of supporters, volunteers and staff who have been incredibly flexible and above all, kind and understanding, which makes things much easier all-round. And we've really appreciated the many small gestures of kindness we've seen over the last few months.
We care a great deal about our supporters, and we hope that sharing how Hearing Dogs is coping during this time and showing you what our puppies have been up to, has brought a smile to your face.
From all the team at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – stay safe and well.
If you’d like to help
If you’d like to help us continue training dogs and supporting deaf people during this difficult time, here are 3 ways you can do so.
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