Creating a 4-star puppy - training a hearing dog for the deaf.
Delia & Pippin's journey.
Delia Stares isn’t just our fantastic Office Manager at Schofield Money. She also has another equally important job is as a puppy trainer for the charity, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.
Unless deafness has affected someone you know, you might not know a lot about it. It’s a fact that as an invisible disability, deafness often makes people feel isolated and lonely. As well as making everyday life incredibly difficult, it also puts them at risk as they can’t hear ‘essential’ sounds such as fire alarms or emergency sirens. That’s why hearing dogs are so incredible. A hearing dog alerts its owner to important and lifesaving sounds such as a smoke alarms and traffic noises down to everyday necessities such as text messages, cooker timers and doorbells, so they feel confident to live an independent life.
But just how does a dog become a hearing dog? That’s where a volunteer puppy trainer like Delia comes in. Training a hearing dog takes a long time. It starts when the puppy is just a few weeks old and lasts until they are about 16 -20 months old. The charity relies totally on donations to breed and train dogs. Deaf people often have to wait up to 3 years to get their dog, as it takes a long time to select and train the right dog.
Delia and her partner, Colin collected Pippin, a blue-roan cocker spaniel, from the Beatrice Wright Centre near York in October 2018. Delia’s main role has been to train him to be a well-behaved dog that’s happy to be around people and other dogs. Delia used training based around rewards, games, treats and lots of fuss to help Pippin learn to sit, lie down and wait for food as well as to walk to heel and to socialise well with other dogs. Delia and Pippin went on regular group walks with other volunteer trainers, so the Charity could see how well Pippin was progressing. She also took Pippin to the charity’s regular Puppy Classes where he passed all his ‘Puppy Stars Awards’, ensuring he picked up the right skills to become a fully trained hearing dog.
Delia commented; “We took Pippin on lots of walks right from the start. He also went on buses and trains from an early age as well as to supermarkets and even hairdressers. As he got older, we started training him with some ‘sound’ work. He now nudges us when the cooker alarm is going off and is learning to lie down if the smoke alarm goes off”.
“It’s been an incredibly enjoyable journey – but Pippin is now 21 months old (we’ve had him a bit longer due to the Covid-19 lockdown) and is ready to start his new life. I’m sure I’ll shed a lot of tears when Pippin moves on, but I know I’ll be proud to have played such an important part in changing someone’s life in the future”.
If you want to know more about Hearing Dogs for the Deaf (and to find out how Pippin is progressing in his new home), why not have a chat with Delia when you next come into the office for your review with your Schofield adviser.