“She helps me to be brave and happy"
Meet 12-year-old Kaitlyn and her hearing dog Rowan.
Kaitlyn was born premature at 26 weeks, weighed less than a bag of sugar and amongst other health difficulties, she was profoundly deaf. She has auditory neuropathy, which means that whilst the inner ear or cochlea receives sounds normally, she has an issue with processing sounds.
Her father Phil said:
“Kaitlyn spent a lot of time in hospital when she was first born. She was really poorly. We knew there were going to problems, as she is profoundly deaf so she couldn’t hear anything at all. We have always been worried Kaitlyn’s deafness and what that means as she grows up.
“Lots of things frightened Kaitlyn when she was younger. Although she appeared happy I think a lot of things frightened her.
“When you see your child struggling, isolated and just finding life so difficult, anything that comes into that, that changes that, is going to have such a big impact.
“Rowan came bouncing in and she has made a massive difference to everybody.”
Hearing Dogs’ Partnership Instructor Hayley Birks who has looked after the pair since they were first matched, has seen a huge change in Kaitlyn;
“It’s just been amazing – over the past three years there’s been such a difference. Kaitlyn’s just got so confident and her personality is completely different.
“She’s like a different little girl, she’s happy to be asked questions, happy to go into shops on her own, and get things done on her own, and has just come on in leaps and bounds from the shy little girl that I first met.”
Talking about her best friend, Kaitlyn said:
“Rowan looks after me. She tries to make me happy whenever I get sad. She gets worried if I get sad or hurt, because she cares about me and I care about her.
“She helps me to be brave and happy, she helps me get to sleep at bedtimes and makes me not scared of anything. I would say that Rowan is my best friend. As long as we know each other we’ll never break each other’s hearts.”
Watch Kaitlyn and Rowan's story
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