“It was literally love at first sight!”

Posted by Matt Sadler

Carolann lacked confidence and suffered from anxiety and depression due to her deafness.

Marly, her first hearing dog, turned her life around. But when he passed away suddenly in 2020, Carolann was left without her “ears”. Her past feelings quickly returned and she struggled to deal with daily activities without her life-changing partner.

However, a new face arrived in her life, and she hasn’t looked back.

Carolann is sitting on the grass next to a tree with hearing dog Walnut next to her

Carolann and hearing dog Walnut

Before Hearing Dogs came into my life in 2009, I lacked confidence, and suffered from depression and anxiety due to my deafness. My first hearing dog partner was Marly, a rescue dog, who was trained by Hearing Dogs. The sound work Marly did for me was incredible. I discovered I had “new ears”.

It gave me confidence when we went out when Marly wore his coat (although people thought I was the trainer as “I didn’t look deaf!”).

Marly alerted me to real smoke alarms in our house, a fire alarm going off in the town centre, helped me stop flooding the bath, or burning dinner with the timer. We had such a bond and I loved the awareness Marly brought when he wore his coat in public places. I found people were more understanding about my communication needs.

Goodbye to my shadow

Sadly, Marly passed away suddenly in November 2020; he was 12 years old and it was such a shock. He was my shadow, my ears and a great family member.

It hit me hard. I felt another dog could never replace the love I had for Marly. At this time, we were in the middle of lockdown due to the COVID pandemic and I had all my family around me. I didn’t have to worry about doorbells, telephones and timers. They would answer the door or tell me the phone was ringing.

However, when lockdown restrictions ended, my son and his fiancée moved out, my husband was working and my stepson went back to work.

Dealing with change

Suddenly, I was alone at home, with no shadow and no sound alerts. I was losing confidence quickly and my anxiety was high.

I was missing a four-legged friend and trained hearing dog so much. I was missing out on walking with my dog friends in our beautiful woods. I would jog in the woods, but it just wasn’t the same.

One night I was so emotional, my husband Steve said you need another hearing dog, so I knew I had to find out if another partner was possible.

A new match

Fast forward 18 months, and in August last year I got a lovely email from Hearing Dogs to say they had found a match! It was a bit of a shock because I didn’t believe it would happen so soon.

Walnut, a black Labrador, arrived in September. To be honest, I was scared and anxious. What if we don’t bond? What if I don’t have the same love I had for Marly? So many thoughts were running through my head.

However, September came and Walnut arrived on our doorstep. It was literally LOVE at first sight! She boldly walked in, ran upstairs, gave Steve and me a fuss, looked at Jackie her amazing trainer and seemed to say: “Yep this will do!”

So much love

From that day on, Walnut settled in and it feels like we’ve had her for years. She has filled our home with so much love. She is affectionate, attentive, loves her cuddles, likes to try and sit on your head if she gets the chance, and loves to chat back. We are impressed with her sound work.

When she wears her coat, she turns into Mrs Serious. She doesn’t react to people fussing, and is so focused on looking after me – it’s an amazing transition.

I take Walnut almost everywhere. She comes along to my art group, where she settles so quickly and sometimes likes to groan at the tutors – to the amusement of the other group members.

I am lucky where I work because Walnut gets to play with her doggy friends – a German Shepherd and Whippet – whilst I am doing spreadsheets and invoicing.

We belong to an American car club and take her to car shows, where she sticks her nose out of our Mustang car window posing.

She fits in everywhere and absolutely nothing fazes her. As soon as her coat is off, she is grabbing a toy, wanting so much affection (and treats).

Walnut has filled a massive hole, and we never thought that would happen. She is loved by so many people and has a massive fan club that is continuing to grow. And I’m loving the fact I have “new ears” again.

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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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