Sallie's Volunteering Story

Posted by Victoria Leedham

Sallie Bateson, from our Winchester puppy hub, has been volunteering as a puppy socialiser for just over six years now. Her role as a full-time socialiser sees her taking on pups at around 8 weeks of age until they are approximately 14-16 months old, whilst training them with basic obedience and also getting them used to the sights and sounds of everyday life.

Sallie accidentally fell into her volunteer role after loosing her beloved Welsh Springer Spaniel suddenly at only 8 years old. She was invited on a Hearing Dog's 'Paws for a Walk' event by a friend who is profoundly deaf. She met many wonderful people on this walk, including other puppy socialising volunteers and also her Puppy Training Instructor, Mandy, and was encouraged to become a puppy socialiser.

"It was only 2 months after meeting Mandy, getting checked out and fulfilling all the criteria, that she arrived on my doorstep with Basil, a 4 month old blue roan working Cocker Spaniel that stole my heart. He came everywhere with me and became a big favourite within our local coffee shop, where we would meet the staff and regulars. He was an extremely settled, loving puppy and I got the reputation of being the lady with the hearing dog puppy (or the lady that is always in the coffee shop) and between us we spoke to plenty of people about the charity and volunteering as a whole", Sallie comments.

After Basil successfully became a hearing dog and went off to change the life of a deaf recipient, she was introduced to her next pup. Teal, another gorgeous blue roan Cocker Spaniel, came to live with Sallie and was again successfully trained. Teal has since gone to live with one of our deaf recipients in Yorkshire.

"Being part of the volunteering family has made a huge difference to my life. I have met so many lovely people within the charity and general public, it has also given me the confidence to help friends who would benefit from a hearing dog and point them in the right direction. My children have more understanding about hearing loss and fundraising for Charity, as well as having great fun teaching the puppies and learning lots along the way", Sallie enthused.

When we asked Sallie what she would say to someone considering volunteering as a puppy socialiser, she had some sound advice to share.

"I would recommend volunteering with hearing dogs as it is such a rewarding position to be in, not only are we helping to provide an amazing resource to help a deaf person, we also have the pleasure of a cute bundle of fun to look after during the first months of it's life. Some people say it's a challenge to have a puppy and then give them away but actually it is a privilege to be given such a valuable creature that will help someone have a happier and more rewarding life. If I can help give that pup a good start in life it makes me happier too."

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About the author

Victoria Leedham

Hello, I’m Victoria and the Volunteering Manager at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. We refer to our volunteers as the Hearing Dogs ‘family’ and really mean it; hopefully some of my blog posts here will explain why!

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