Friday 1st March 2013
The meeting was well attended and we were pleased to welcome Mrs Jenny Smith from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People along with her working dog Molly. Jenny gave us an interesting and informative talk based on the history of the Charity and also a short resume of her life as a deaf person. She explained that due to various illness’ her already impaired hearing became a constant problem for her. She found that normal everyday living was a struggle (not able to hear important everyday sounds like the telephone ringing, missing visitors ringing the doorbell – everyday household sounds and danger signals which are taken for granted). It was suggested several years ago that she should apply for a Hearing Dog and after some time (and training) was pleased to receive Jango an Alsatian cross Pharaoh Hound (a super dog with exceptionally large pointed ears !). Jango came via the RNID. He went everywhere with Jenny and literally “changed her life”. Sadly time moved on and Jango was retired – she then had a wait of around a year before another suitable dog was found as a match to her, and Molly (a Labrador) joined her.
Jenny went on to give us a potted history of the Hearing Dogs for Deaf Charity. Bruce Fogle, a Vet, heard about similar work in the USA and researched the training. He returned to England and contacted Lady Beatrice Wright of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (Honorary President and co-founder of Hearing Dogs) who was interested in the concept. Initially two people supported the Charity, giving up their paid work, and setting up a training room in a Portacabin based at the home of Gillian Lacey. The first hearing dog was placed in 1983 and the Charity, after 30 years, now has Training Centres at Saunderton and a smaller site at Selby in North Yorkshire. This Centre supports partnerships in Scotland bearing in mind recipients span nationwide. The Charity does not receive Government Funding and relies on fundraising, donations and sponsorship along with a vast number of voluntary helpers who undertake many varied tasks with both puppies, breeding programmes, training and at the Centre itself. Her talk was supported by a slide presentation. Jenny did mention that the Charity collects used printer cartridges, old mobile phones along with used postage stamps as part of their fundraising.
We listened with enthusiasm and amazement that such a “partnership” enabled Jenny with the support of her Hearing Dog, to stand up in front of a relatively large group and talk about her wellbeing and to extol the virtues of the Hearing Dog for the Deaf Charity – a task in past years she would never have considered doing ! Her “partner” Molly soon made herself “at home” and was especially pleased when the refreshments arrived !