Service dogs and other animals often prove invaluable for the people they help. Here are eight hearing dogs I have read about, in alphabetical order by the animal's name. Do you know of a heroic hearing dog? Share your story in the comments.
1. Cinders Cinders was a Border Collie originally trained as a hearing dog for Debs (last name unknown). When she came down with Meniere's Disease, however, the dog began to help her with her symptoms. "Cinders had been a great comfort to me, as I knew she would be there by my side when I had attacks of vertigo spells and helped me to bathroom in time to be sick. She learned to help me as she went along." Cinders passed away in 2007.
2. Darian Shelly Stokes is a mother of three and a Gulf War veteran. She has conductive hearing loss, and rather than deal with hearing aids that had been causing her problems, she looked into getting a hearing dog. Darian is a mixed breed who helps Stokes in and out of the home. She says, "I was not going out much [...] [t]hat's the area where he helps me out the most. I can't tell you how many times I've almost been run over in a parking lot because I don't hear the car coming behind me."
3. Gem After seven-year-old Evie Crook was fitted with a pair of hearing aids, "[s]he was troubled by everyday noises and would cry and try to rip her hearing aids out. Even the sound of birds singing and the wind blowing in the trees distressed her," according to her mother. Her parents enrolled her in a new program, and she became the youngest participant. She received Gem, a yellow Labrador retriever, as part of the program, and, according to her mother, "[f]or the first time in seven years Evie sleeps all night, every night [...] she's happier, doing better at school, has more friends and her behaviour's improved as a result."
4. Goblin Goblin was rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico and given by the National Education for Assistance Dog Service to Ray Dobson. Dobson had been experiencing more anti-social feelings as a result of continuing hearing loss. According to the article, Goblin and other hearing dogs serve as a way to make "observers aware of the handler's situation," which can often be invisible to people. Dobson's wife says he's now back in the "mainstream" socially thanks to Goblin.
5. Lye Lye was named Heroic Hearing Dog of the Year for 2010. Lye, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, alerted her owner, Nicola Willis, that Willis' 15-year-old daughter was choking upstairs. The girl choked on water and made noises and signs to alert the dog, who bounded down the stairs despite three slipped discs in her back. An ambulance arrived and Willis' daughter is fine.
6. Nellie In 2008, Nellie, a black Labrador, alerted her owner of an intruder in their hotel room. Her owner, Gill Houghton, says, "It was the middle of the night and Nellie woke me. I thought she had made a mistake so I told her to get off the bed. But she jumped up again, alerted me and dropped to the floor in the emergency position. I then sat up and put my glasses on and saw that the door to the room was open and a man was standing in the doorway looking at us. I put my hearing aids in, and as I did this Nellie jumped on the bed again and placed herself between him and the children. I told the man to leave and eventually he did. During the whole episode, Nellie did not flinch but sat and protected the children with her body."
7. Radar Radar is a poodle mix who lives with Rusty Ellis, a high school science teacher. He was almost passed up in the pound, but proved he had what it takes to work as a hearing dog. He has been trained especially to help Ellis at school, alerting him when bells ring and when students want his attention.
8. Roddy Roddy is a unique hearing dog: he performs the services of both a hearing and a guide dog. He's the first of his kind in Scotland. Angela Hassall at first had solely hearing dogs, but began to lose her sight in 1999. Two charities worked closely together to train Roddy to perform both duties. It was tricky; according to the article, guide dogs need to be calm and nonreactive, while hearing dogs need to be responsive to sound. Roddy was chosen as the perfect mix of the two. Angela says, "I know how much Roddy means to me - he is a very special dog."