An interesting talk was delivered to Fordingbridge Rotary members, via the medium of Zoom, last Tuesday evening 9th February. The speakers were Malcolm and Eileen Pickett of the “Hearing Dogs for Deaf People” organisation. Eileen is deaf and the beneficiary of a “hearing dog”. Malcolm explained all about the training that these dogs go through, including what they are trained to do, and what they are not trained to do. Dogs are trained to alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds that they would otherwise miss, like the doorbell, fire alarms and even alarm clocks. Additionally, the dogs are trained to give a deaf person a newfound sense of independence, confidence and companionship. The attached photograph depicts a genuine young beneficiary.
This organisation has matched thousands of dogs carefully with deaf people. The dogs are retired at the princely age of 11, and each deaf partner often elects to keep the former hearing dog as a pet. The cost of training, supporting and placing these hearing dogs is around £40,000 per dog, and the organisation relies heavily upon volunteers, support and donations.