"He is my best Christmas gift ever!"
Posted by Matt Sadler
Sunday 29 November 2015 is a day Sarah will never forget. It's the day cocker spaniel Albert became her hearing dog and a moment in time that changed her life forever.
Fast-forward five years and Sarah has gone from strength to strength, with her very own superstar by her side every step of the way.
Sarah reveals more about that special day, how Albert has transformed her life, and why she will always be thankful to Hearing Dogs’ wonderful volunteer family.
“That Sunday was the day that Albert changed my life immediately. I spent all day making sure that everything was ready for his arrival. I waited by the window most of the afternoon and then I saw a car pull up outside my house, and I just knew it was Albert.
“I had butterflies in my stomach and a big smile on my face when I saw him get out of the car along with Nicci from Hearing Dogs. I opened the door; Albert just ran in as he was so excited.
“It's like he knew this is his forever home and his tail never stopped wagging. He knew that I am the one whose life he will change. We have been inseparable since we first met, and I am just so lucky to have him in my life.
“He is absolutely amazing, and I don't know what I would do without him. I love him to bits. He has brought so much love, joy and laughter into my life for the last five years. He is my very special superstar.
“My family and friends have noticed a big change in me in those five years.
“Albert has given me so much more confidence. We do a lot of things that I never thought I would do, like travelling to different places, meeting new people and going shopping, although this year has been very different. It's all thanks to Albert - I wouldn't have done it without him. I'm also a lot more relaxed at home, knowing that Albert will let me know about sounds that I can't hear.
“He just loves to work, and he has so much fun. He is absolutely fantastic, and he has done so much more than what I expected him to as a hearing dog. I can't believe the difference he has made to my life. He is part of me, like my missing piece of jigsaw that now completed me. He is my best friend, my companion, and my whole world.
“Christmas is a very special time for everyone, but for us it is extra special and magical because Albert was my early Christmas present.
“It'll be our fifth Christmas together and just like every other Christmas, he knows what time of year it is as soon as I get his doggy advent calendar out of the cupboard on 1 December. He gets excited knowing he will get a treat from it every day until Christmas Day.
“When I go into the attic and bring down boxes full of Christmas decorations, he loves to look through every box like he always does with every bag and box. He likes to help me wrap presents on the floor and he loves opening his presents on Christmas Day morning.
“We like to take a couple of walks after dark to look at all those sparkly lights in the neighbourhood, and normally we would visit the Christmas markets, meet family and friends and watch the countdown to the Christmas lights switch-on. Obviously, it has been different this year, but it is still a very special time for us, and we have lots of fun no matter what we do.”
So, what is Albert getting for Christmas?
“He’s got a lot (I mean a lot!) of treats as he absolutely loves his food. Two toys which have come all the way from America which I can hide his treats in, a burgundy fleece blanket with his name on it, a new puzzle game which he will love to play with, agility equipment, a Christmas bowtie and much more. I know he will get more presents from my family and friends too. Santa Paws will be bringing some extra presents as well. He is a very lucky boy!
“All Albert really wants for Christmas this year though is for everyone to stay safe and well, and to have hope that 2021 will be much brighter, because we are hopeful that it will be.”
The confidence Albert has brought to Sarah has helped her do something she never thought would be possible – giving talks to groups about her life and her amazing cocker spaniel…
“At first, I have to admit it that I was terrified at the thought of doing it. I was thinking 'what if they don't understand me?'. My speech isn't perfect and I use British Sign Language as my main form of communication, but I wanted to spread the word about our amazing charity and tell them all about Albert, and how he has changed my life.
“Albert has helped me by pushing me out of my comfort zone, and I went ahead with it. Honestly, I wouldn't have done this without him. My fundraising manager has been so helpful with this and she has matched us up with another speaker called Kerri, who is so lovely.
“We work together as a team brilliantly, and now we have become good friends. We hope to meet up in 2021 when everything is back to normal. We've only done a few talks so far, but we have already received some really lovely comments from the people that we gave our talks to. They were saying how much they enjoyed our talk and seeing Albert too!
“Albert and I are so proud to be part of the Hearing Dogs family. We have made friends through Hearing Dogs, whether in person or through social media, and we've got to know so many new people.
“I want to say a massive thank you to ALL the amazing volunteers and the Hearing Dogs staff too. Their hard work and dedication have made it all possible. They should be so proud of what they do, helping to train these special hearing dogs to change lives. I’m forever in their debt for making this life possible.
“A special thank you to the volunteers who helped Albert in any way during his training. He is my best Christmas gift ever!”
Meet the pups in our Puppy Training Scheme
These cute puppies are training to become life-changers. Sponsor them from £3 a month and follow their journey as they learn how to help a deaf person.
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