A hearing dog from Sutton in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire played an extremely important role at a family wedding recently. Mitchell a five year old fox-terrier x border collie was the ‘ring bearer’ at his deaf owner’s daughter Emily’s wedding last year at Mansfield Registrar’s Office.
Mitchell proudly carried the wedding rings in a small ring pouch fastened with burgundy ribbon to his collar.
“Emily wanted Mitchell to play a full role at her wedding as he is part of the family.” explains Don “Mitchell duly carried the rings, and the best man, who had never met Mitchell, untied the silk bag from around Mitchell's neck, and took the two rings out of a small leather pouch. Mitchell never flinched. Everyone, including the ceremony officiate commented on his excellent behaviour. As far as it is known, Mitchell was the first assistance dog to participate in a ceremony”.
Don (60) discovered he was losing his hearing 12 years ago and his world fell apart. A qualified music teacher, Don played the organ six days a week at the local crematorium. His hearing loss meant that he quite literally withdrew from his life as he struggled to adjust to his world of virtual silence.
Don says; “I found myself withdrawing into a shell and became fearful of the ever increasing busy world. I tried to involve myself in charity work and on one occasion I was staying overnight at a university campus when there was a fire in a nearby building and everybody was evacuated but I slept through not realising. It was then that I decided to apply for a hearing dog who would not only alert me to danger signals such as smoke alarms but also every day household sounds like the doorbell and alarm clock”.
Don was matched with Mitchell and the pair have now been together for over three years. “Life has reverted to much of what it was before, although there can never be music again” says Don. “Having Mitchell by my side has allowed me to avoid much of the stresses of what was becoming a dangerous world for me. Mitchell is my best mate, my dearest trusted companion. I couldn’t be without him; he is a big part of me and who I am now. My family have seen the difference he has made to my life and that’s why Emily wanted him to play such an important role at her wedding”.