Geraldine's deafness made her so sad and lonely
When Geraldine lost her hearing, and her job, she lost her confidence and started to isolate herself. With hearing dog Bella's help, she's now happy to get out and about.
Deafness stopped Geraldine's life
When Geraldine lost her hearing, after numerous infections throughout her 30s, she had to leave the career she loved in the police service.
As a result, she slowly lost her confidence. “My social life was affected greatly”, says Geraldine. “I was afraid of getting into situations where I would mishear people and act or respond incorrectly.”
These situations could pop up anywhere, anytime. She was criticised at the railway station for talking during an announcement. In supermarkets people would barge past her because she didn’t hear them ask to get past. They didn’t know she was deaf, because deafness is ‘invisible’.
So, Geraldine chose to avoid these situations. Instead, she stayed at home, lonely, and slowly losing the confidence she used to have as a member of the police service.
It was one day, when Geraldine literally begged her hearing therapist to bring back her hearing, that things came to a head. The therapist helped bring about the next best thing: Geraldine was recommended to Hearing Dogs. She was matched with Bella, a beautiful black Cocker Spaniel...
… and then hearing dog Bella transformed her life completely.
Bella was born on 21 April 2013, as part of our breeding scheme. For her first year, she was looked after by volunteers and trained in puppy classes. Then, she moved to our centre in Buckinghamshire where she was taught how to alert people to important sounds.
Throughout this time, we noticed that Bella was exceptionally sensitive and attuned to whoever she was with. We thought this would make her a great companion for Geraldine. We were right.
Today, Bella tells Geraldine about important sounds that she needs to know about. For example, if the doorbell goes, Bella goes to Geraldine and nudges her with her nose. Geraldine gives the sign for ‘What is it?’, with her palms upward, and follows Bella to the door. It’s an everyday way to make life better.
But, equally importantly, Bella has improved Geraldine’s social life immeasurably.
“Bella has dramatically changed my life”, says Geraldine. “I don't have to tell people that I am deaf as they can see Bella's burgundy coat. Only the other day I was at the supermarket and the staff knew I was deaf because of Bella. They were so helpful when I asked them where to find something. I even have confidence to use public transport again, because people continually help me along the way. It’s overwhelming how kind people are now.”
“There is unspoken trust, love and understanding between us.”
Recently, at the same hospital where she was once begging for help, the sister saw her with Bella. She came over and said “Geraldine, I haven't seen you smile like this in a long time…!"
Today, they are a team – or, like a mother and child according to Geraldine. “We both seem to know what each other wants. There is unspoken trust, love and understanding between us.”
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