Now that Keith has Victor by his side, he's out and about again
Posted by Brendan Cooper
Victor is a hearing dog! He made it! With your support, he passed all his assessments, and now he helps Keith on a daily basis.
Keith’s hearing loss was very gradual. He suffers from otosclerosis, a condition that causes abnormal bone growth in the middle ear, disrupting the ability of sound to travel from the middle ear to the inner ear. After retirement he found interacting with people increasingly difficult, but Victor has helped him overcome this.
The partnership begins
Keith started to notice his deafness in his late teens. He explains: “It didn’t affect me at school, or even when I started working as a jockey. However, I started noticing it when I went out to noisy places such as pubs, and that’s when I knew the otosclerosis was getting worse.”
Later in life, Keith worked in a factory. “These were quite boisterous, noisy environments, especially in the factory. People communicated by shouting and via basic hand gestures, so I got by.”
It was when Keith retired, and his deafness progressed, that he started to struggle. He explains: “Most of my working life I’d been around people who knew about my deafness, in places where it wasn’t too much of a drawback. But when I retired, that all disappeared. It was a very sudden change.
“If I went out for a walk in my local village and bumped into someone who knew I was deaf, it wasn’t so bad. But if it was someone I didn’t know, forget it. All I could do was say ‘hello’ and they sometimes thought I was being very rude by not talking to them. It became embarrassing and frustrating, and so I found myself staying indoors to avoid these situations.”
His wife Jayne continues: “Keith was starting to feel really lonely. He could get quite wound up about it. I didn’t like to see him like that, and I worried about him, especially when I wasn’t around.”
A few years ago, Keith had seen a hearing dog in a supermarket, and had a chat with its owner. So, he thought it might benefit him too. When Keith approached Hearing Dogs, he said he wanted a dog with a cheeky personality. That’s Victor all over. We also knew he needed a dog that would be happy to accompany Keith when meeting new people. Again, totally Victor. It was a great match.
Now that Keith has Victor by his side, he’s out and about again. “It’s a complete change”, says Keith. “People approach me in shops and restaurants because they see Victor’s burgundy coat and are genuinely interested. Then, when I tell them how he helps me, they become so accommodating: they’ll repeat what they’ve said or talk louder if necessary.” It’s just like when Keith met that person in the supermarket all those years ago, except that now, Keith tells people about his own hearing dog!
As well as helping Keith, Victor’s also providing plenty of entertainment! “He watches TV, especially wildlife programmes. When he realises they’re ‘in the TV’ and not in the room he trots off.”
Keith’s life continues to expand. Indeed, he’s started venturing out to the local park. “This is somewhere I didn’t really want to go in case I met people. I feel confident going there, now that I’ve been blessed with Victor.”
How would Keith sum up Victor? “He’s an adorable and devoted friend.” And what would he say to you, his sponsor? “I am overwhelmed with Victor and the generosity of those who sponsored him. He has made a huge difference to my life. Thank you so much.”
So ends Victor’s journey, which you made possible. Today, Victor is helping Keith regain his confidence and re-engage with the community around him. We would love it if you would consider sponsoring another puppy. Whatever you decide, from all of us at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People – thank you for sponsoring Victor.
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