“Having a hearing dog enables me to care for my husband, so he can still live at home with me"
At almost 82 years of age, Wendy Pegge has more energy and sparkle than many women half her age. But if you’d met Wendy just 18 months ago she would have painted quite a different picture…
“You know, I didn’t truly appreciate the benefits of having a hearing dog, until I lost my first dog Beetle,” recalls Wendy Pegge from Buckinghamshire. “After having his support for 10 years it was quite devastating when I lost him so suddenly; I really wondered how long I could go on for.
“I've always been quite an independent person but those six months without a hearing dog were awful. I was in a real black hole at that time and hadn’t realised how much it showed in my attitude, my looks, my face.
"Then I was given Harvey and people started saying ‘you’ve changed, you're back to your old happy self again’, which just shows you what a hearing dog does for a deaf person; they bring them out of themselves.
“Having a hearing dog is what enables me to care for my husband Michael, so he can still live at home with me, which is wonderful.”
Michael smiles in agreement: “I feel blessed with Wendy by my side. What makes me happy is seeing Wendy happy.” Michael sits in his special chair in the living room of the home he and Wendy have shared for 58 years.
A few years ago Michael suffered a series of strokes that left him severely disabled. Now unable to move by himself, his life is confined to just two rooms. Michael accepts these limitations with quiet dignity and cheerfulness. Why? Because this gentle man is being cared for in his home; where he and his wife Wendy brought up their family and made memories.
Sitting close by, listening quietly to the couple’s every word is Harvey. This smart black miniature Poodle is Wendy’s second hearing dog and Michael says he arrived just in time. “When we lost Beetle Wendy became very depressed. It broke my heart to see her so bereft.”
Wendy explains: “Beetle had always been there to support me in caring for Michael. Losing my hearing dog meant I was completely on my own. The anxiety of trying to care for Michael when I couldn’t hear was overwhelming. I felt unable to cope and that I was letting Michael down. I missed my hearing dog desperately. It was like being in a deep black hole. I couldn’t see a way to go on…
“Then I was offered Harvey and I really believe he saved my life. My whole attitude changed – he literally lifted my mood."
"We could not exist without a hearing dog now"
At bedtime when Wendy takes her hearing aid out she is completely deaf. In the dark and unable to see, she has no way of knowing if Michael needs her.
Michael says this is when Harvey’s help is more important to him than ever: “Wendy having a hearing dog helps me to feel more relaxed, especially at night. If ever I need Wendy I know I can just say ‘call mum’ and Harvey will bring her to me – I’m confident of that. We could not exist without having a hearing dog now.”
Wendy agrees: “It’s a great comfort knowing that I can rely on Harvey to tell me if Michael needs me, or when the nurse carers come to the door and about any other important sounds.
“Harvey runs up to me and puts two little paws on my knee and then as he whizzes off to Michael – or whatever it is – I follow him. He’s also very good at the smoke alarm; he taps me and then drops straight to the ground.
“Walking Harvey every day gets me out of the house and into the fresh air. I used to dread meeting people before, but not when I’ve got Harvey with me. People recognise me with my dog and then they smile and make an effort to speak, it's a lovely, lovely feeling. It gives me confidence really, having this little friend walking next to me. I think he's completely changed my life.”
Every morning Harvey wakes Wendy up at 6.00am. She says: “Just seeing Harvey’s dear little face makes me smile. I get up, make a cup of tea and check that Michael is OK. Then get everything ready for when the nurse carers come in at about quarter to eight.
"The support they give us so Michael can be at home with me is wonderful – but you know I just couldn’t do it without Harvey.
“He's our little carer isn’t he Michael?”
Michael smiles lovingly at his wife and then at Harvey as he slowly contemplates his reply: “Yes, very much so.”