"Having Hunter has been my lifeline"
Posted by Matt Sadler
When Lisa suddenly became completely deaf, her life imploded. She had to leave her job. She became isolated and depressed. Last year, she was matched with hearing dog Hunter – a gorgeous black Labrador who is not only her ‘ears’, but also her lifeline.
Here, Lisa tells her story:
“I was born profoundly deaf, and as the only deaf person in my family I have always struggled to feel like I belonged.
“I just about managed with two hearing aids. I went to a hearing school and then worked as a manager for a large retailer, responsible for over 800 staff. I really enjoyed my job. I just got on with it.
“However, five years ago I had a viral infection on my brain which resulted in losing the little remaining hearing I had. I could no longer get by with hearing aids. I became depressed and had to stop working.
“I became completely isolated. I felt like I was trapped in a glass box. I could be seen but I was alone and ignored.
“Communicating with people in a predominantly hearing world can be overwhelming and confusing and I felt excluded and feeling alone, even in my immediate family unit.
“I was scared of everything, all the time – worried that I couldn't hear a smoke alarm, petrified that I couldn't hear intruders, startled when people came into the room. I went from being part of a group of friends, arranging fun activities and charity events, to being home alone.
“I was scared of my own shadow. My anxiety was out of control. I ended up being on medication.
“Then the beautiful Hunter came along and changed everything changed. Every day is better with him.
“I can’t hear the alarm clock, so Hunter wakes me up every morning. He alerts me to mobile phone messages, the doorbell, and he will nudge me to tell me when someone is calling “mam” and then take me to them.
“I have never slept so well since having Hunter, knowing that he will wake me up if the smoke alarm goes off.
“Out in public, Hunter wears his burgundy Hearing Dog jacket, which helps other people to realise that I am deaf and means I rarely get verbally abused in shops or knocked or pushed over by people coming behind me on bikes or mobility scooters. He also alerts me to fire sirens in shopping centres and supermarkets.
“I am getting back to my old self again. I am more relaxed in my home because I know Hunter will tell me about what's going on – people at the door, people coming into the room, the smoke alarm, the alarm clock.
“I’m building my confidence every day with Hunter by my side. I've even went on a train journey on my own for the first time in five years, to visit my eldest daughter at university. It was wonderful, and very emotional.
“I went to see my goddaughter's school play last Christmas, which I’d never have been able to do before Hunter. He just settled quietly because he's been so well trained. I was asked so many questions about how he helps me.
“Whenever we go for walks together, I speak to people I've never met before. Instead of being ignored, of feeling trapped, I feel part of the world around me again. I’ve even started volunteering for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People which has helped me meet new people and give something back to this amazing charity.
“Having Hunter has been my lifeline. He’s my ears and my companion. Without him I would never have dreamed of getting back into the land of living and enjoying life again. He’s allowed me to just be ‘me’ again.”
Hunter was a hearing dog sponsor puppy, which meant that kind people sponsored his training journey. Thanks to our puppy sponsors, we’re able to train more dogs to transform the lives of deaf people.
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