Help hearing dog Ruby change a deaf person's life
40th anniversary appeal
Today, Ruby is a cute puppy who likes tummy tickles. However, one day she’ll become an amazing hearing dog, who will be her deaf partner’s best friend, helping them practically and emotionally, day and night.
Meet Ruby! She’s certainly very pleased to meet you!
She’s an excited new puppy, whom we’ve named to celebrate forty years of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
She’s a typical Cocker Spaniel – bright, affectionate, ears everywhere, and seems to operate via an on/off button, either full-steam ahead or snoozing soundly.
One day she’ll help a deaf person to reconnect with the world around them. This could be their first furry friend, or even a successor dog, continuing our commitment to a lifetime of support.
Right now however, for her first year, she’s going to live with volunteer puppy trainers who will make sure she’s happy and healthy.
They’ll take her from the first cues – sit, wait, down – through to advanced routines like walking nicely on her lead (‘heelwork’), returning when called (‘recall’) and being a well-behaved girl in public places such as trains or cafés (‘settling’).
They’ll also gently introduce her to the wider world, taking her on walks, visiting parks, or even going on holiday together. This is all so that Ruby learns that new experiences are fun. She’ll be a confident Cocker Spaniel!
Then, with that foundation in place, she’ll acquire the skill that sets our dogs apart: how to alert deaf people to sounds, called ‘soundwork’.
It begins with Ruby learning to nudge something with her nose – a post-it, a hand, a toy – and associate that with a sound, such as a clicker.
The full sequence eventually comes together: Ruby hears a sound such as the doorbell; she finds the trainer; she gives them a nudge with her nose; the trainer asks “What is it?” with their hands out; and Ruby leads them to it. It’s so impressive to witness, and remains so even after 40 years.
Then, when she’s matched with a deaf person, Ruby will help them practically, every day, in so many different ways.
She’ll give them nose nudges, for example if the baby cries, or the doorbell rings, or the mobile phone text alert sounds. She might even jump on their bed when the alarm clock goes (it’s a wonderful way to start the day!)
As importantly, she will also help them emotionally.
If we’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that a lot of deaf people can feel very isolated.
Sometimes, interacting with the world can just become too tiring or frustrating, and they withdraw. A happy hearing dog gets them out and about again, helping them renew old friendships and build new ones.
And you just have to look into a dog’s eyes to feel the love that needs no words. This will always be a universal truth, for the next 40 years and beyond.
Life will also get easier through Ruby’s burgundy Hearing Dogs coat, which will signal that Ruby is with a deaf person. This will be a profound change, turning frustration into friendly smiles and help.
So, as you can see, Ruby’s journey starts with a small puppy, and ends with a deaf person’s life transformed, through the kindness of people like you.
We can’t wait to see how her journey pans out. Will she ever get the hang of her ears? Will she become a soundwork superstar? Will she become a child’s hearing dog? Or someone’s successor dog? With your support, she will.