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Hearing dog Nina opens up a whole new world for Sheila

Posted Oct 29 2010 11:31am

Sheila Ashton Nina.JPG
Nina, a five year old Lhasa Apso from Wigan, Lancashire, opened up a whole new world for her owner Sheila Ashton who had become deaf due to a dreadful accident.

It was 1966 and Sheila, now 70, was in her 20s with a young family when she was involved in an accident at work which buried her under six feet of iron racks. Sheila explains: “It took a group of men to get me out. The poles had gone over like skittles with me underneath. Not only did I lose my hearing but also suffered with tinnitus, head pain, facial paralysis and even a white streak in my hair.”

A blood clot had travelled through Sheila’s body as a result of the accident and had settled in her head, and this had triggered off her paralysis and hearing loss. The years that followed Sheila’s accident involved several visits to the hospital, the tinnitus eventually subsided but her hearing never returned.

“When I was working I hid my deafness from my bosses because I knew I would have been sacked if they had found out. I could never go out with a group of people because I wouldn’t be able to lip read everyone well enough and the noise would have been too much to cope with” says Sheila.

Then, six or seven years ago when visiting the audiology department at her hospital, Sheila was told that she needed help to cope with everyday life. They suggested Sheila consider getting a hearing dog and two years later she was partnered with Nina. “I loved Nina from the moment I met her. She is such a character, a ball of fluff, my best friend and constant companion. Nina has opened up a whole new life for me, and given me another family with all the Hearing Dogs staff who have given me so much support”.

Sheila has gone from someone who hid her hearing loss to a confident person who is no longer concerned about going out, because she has Nina by her side in her special hearing dog burgundy jacket indicating to people that she can’t hear properly.

Says Sheila: “Nina has given me back my freedom. I feel safer with Nina. I feel better walking with her by my side and a big plus is that I sleep better because I know that Nina will alert me if the smoke alarm goes off during the night. She looks after me very well. Who would have thought that one little dog could make such a big difference to my life?”

If you would like to find out more about how you can help to change the future of a deaf person like Sheila, please contact Hearing Dogs for Deaf People on 01844 348100, or email info@hearingdogs.org.uk .

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