"Every day Juno makes me smile"
Posted by Matt Sadler
Remember sponsor puppy Juno? Now all grown up, she's Lee's loyal hearing dog. Find out how they helped each other through the difficulties of 2020 and continue to help each other every day.
How has Juno changed my life? Honestly beyond all my expectations.
It’s more of a feeling than something I can put easily into words. Wherever I go, whatever I do, Juno is always by my side. Even though she can't speak, I have a sense of ‘hearing’ everything she tells me. This makes me feel safe, reassured and calm.
I was just 10 when I lost my hearing after contracting meningitis. It had happened so suddenly that I found it hard to adjust. It caused me a lot of frustration and anger. I was moved to a school for the deaf. It was horrific. My mum fought to get me back into mainstream education and there I thrived. At college I felt included and accepted for the first time.
I decided to apply for a hearing dog after starting work in London. I had moved offices several times and not one had been fitted with a visual fire alarm, so I never felt safe. Sharing my life with Juno has changed that completely; I no longer have that kind of anxiety, because now I know she'll alert me and keep me safe if any alarms go off.
Juno is a typical Cockapoo, lively, loving and full of character, a best friend who alerts me to the doorbell and fire alarms and will happily come and fetch me if my partner Phil asks her to. It’s always rewarding working with her and every day Juno makes me smile.
We now live in Leicestershire and throughout 2020 our area was almost constantly under one form of lockdown or another. To be honest I rather enjoyed not going out. It meant I didn’t have to deal with the stress of trying to understand people.
Growing up with hearing loss I’d got used to spending a lot of time by myself. The isolation of lockdown at home felt much the same.
Being out walking however felt very different. Juno, usually calm and attentive, sensed my anxiety whenever we left the house. Some days our public parks were so busy I just didn’t feel safe, so we’d turn around and go home. We kept Juno exercised in the garden by throwing tennis balls for her. She didn't mind, she loves a game of fetch as much as a walk – if not more!
Juno got used to seeing people in masks because Phil and I had started wearing them before it became compulsory. Communication by lipreading is no longer possible, but if someone speaks to me, I find the ‘Live Transcribe’ app on my phone works a treat. Also having Juno there in her burgundy Hearing Dogs coat makes my deafness ‘visible’, so people are pre-warned and are more inclined to be understanding.
Juno loves alerting me to the doorbell. During lockdown, with no one coming to the door, Juno missed it. To give her some practice and cheer her up, Phil would try sneaking out the back door and tiptoeing round to ring the front doorbell, but it just wasn’t the same.
Happily, when lockdowns ease she bounces right back. Although I’m not sure whether it’s the thrill of having visitors again, or the tasty chicken rewards she gets when the doorbell rings!
Working from home means Juno happily settles in her bed next to my desk and chews on her toys or fall asleep. When she decides I’ve done enough she’ll give me a gentle nudge to ask if she can sit on my lap. She stares at me with that adorable face and I melt.
Juno is adorable and makes everything feel OK, even during the hardest of times.
You can follow Lee and Juno's story on Instagram - @junothehearingdog
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