"Elvis has made me proud of myself and my hearing loss"
Posted by Matt Sadler
When Nadine applied for a hearing dog, she hoped it would ease her day-to-day struggles and worries, but what she didn’t expect was for her new four-legged companion to change her outlook and life entirely.
“I have bilateral congenital hearing loss that I first noticed when I was in my early 20s. My condition is degenerative and over the years my hearing has gradually got worse. Being hard of hearing is something that I learnt to live with but was not something that I publicised.
“There were two defining moments in my life that made me realise I would benefit from having a hearing dog.
“My first moment – whilst away on a business trip, the fire alarm in the hotel went off and guests were evacuated. I did not hear the fire alarm and remained tucked up in bed oblivious.
“Thankfully, it was a false alarm, and no harm was done, however, it made me very anxious about what could have happened. For all subsequent trips, I had to ask hotel staff if they would come to get me, should the alarm go off. It left me feeling very insecure that I might get forgotten and I was quite uncomfortable having to ask.
“My second moment – my then husband got up in the night to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, he became unwell and collapsed, hitting his head on the sink, knocking himself unconscious.
“When he came round, he called out to me for help, and I did not hear him. He was injured and dazed but had to crawl back to our bedroom to get my attention. I felt terrible because when he needed my help, I couldn't be there for him.
“My anxiety increased and many thoughts kept going through my mind: what if he hadn’t managed to get my attention? What if it had been my young son? I felt useless and this was probably the first time I realised how my hearing loss could be a real issue for my family.
“So, I made up my mind and applied for a hearing dog. Whilst I waited for my hearing dog, I attended events for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and even joined a community day with other recipients. It was so lovely to meet other people with hearing loss and meet their amazing dogs. I knew I'd made the right decision.
“In January 2021, Elvis moved in with me. He is a gorgeous black Cocker Spaniel and was 22 months old when he first joined me.
“Over the last 15 months, Elvis and I have been on quite a journey. Not having had a dog before, I had a lot to learn and I’m still adapting but having Elvis has profoundly changed my life and I wouldn't want it any other way.
“Elvis hears my alarm clock and wakes me up every morning – he’s so happy to see me and it is the most amazing way to start the day. He alerts me when someone rings the doorbell and even when they knock. I also have a timer that I use for cooking and he's really good at letting me know when that is going off.
“He even tells me when the washing machine has finished. We are working on different fire alarms (my office alarm is a siren) and he is good at doing the danger alert.
“Since having Elvis, I have been far more confident and relaxed staying away. I know Elvis will tell me if there’s an alarm going off and I don’t have to worry. Last year, whilst on holiday, the hotel fire alarm went off and Elvis alerted me straight away.
“We were able to evacuate safely and the experience really boosted my confidence. We have even flown to Scotland for business – I was very nervous but I needn’t have been – Elvis was a star and took it all in his stride.
“I suppose the best part of having a hearing dog is the fact that he has made me proud of myself and my hearing loss. Having Elvis with me lets everyone know I can't hear properly and I am finding people are much kinder and more considerate as a result. There's always something to talk about and I have become much more sociable.
“I can’t imagine my life without Elvis now. Without him, my life would become more isolated again. My hearing condition is degenerative but having Elvis at this stage of my hearing loss is allowing me to adapt and I feel that I can be alone, and I’m not worried about the future.”
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