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About The Hearing Dog Program

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The Hearing Dog Program provides canine assistance to people with hearing loss by training dogs to alert Deaf and hard of hearing people to important sounds such as the smoke alarm, the telephone, and the doorbell. Through awareness of these sounds, the person's quality of life and independence dramatically improve. In addition, the loving companionship of a trained Hearing Dog results in the formation of a strong, life-long bond that benefits both the recipient and the dog.

Such positive changes are reflected in exceptional, inspiring stories of love and devotion. People's lives have been restored through greater environmental awareness and expanded social networks. Lives have been saved through alerts to fire and smoke alarms. Hearing Dogs make a major difference in the lives of people with hearing loss.

Recognized by their happy, tail-wagging, people-loving demeanor, Hearing Dogs enjoy their "work" and eagerly learn to run between people and sounds. Their rewards are praise, kindness, and food treats. Many of the dogs selected for the Hearing Dog Program come from shelters and rescue groups throughout California, with many originating in Fresno at the Central California SPCA. Homeless dogs are saved and given rewarding jobs, and recipients gain reassurance that important sounds will not be missed, thus creating a win-win situation for all.

We are also proud of our "career change" dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, CA. Although becoming a Guide Dog was not in their future, they make wonderful Hearing Dogs and fulfill their destiny of helping people in a different fashion, in tune with their innate talents and personalities.

Hearing Dog recipients come from throughout California and Nevada. Their ages range from eighteen (and occasionally younger) to well into their eighties. Some enjoy busy, outdoor lifestyles, while others are more content with less active or indoor activities. Some have large families; others live alone. No matter what the lifestyle or other differences, one thing they have in common is their love and appreciation for their canine partner.

Anyone with hearing loss is welcome to apply for a Hearing Dog. Those accepted must agree to provide a safe and secure home for their dog and show an ongoing commitment to their dog's well being and training.

A careful match between dog and person ensures that each dog is placed in the best possible home. Over time, as the human/dog relationship develops, the strength of the bond provides an extra impetus for the Hearing Dogs to do their job well, and a strong team is formed. This relationship becomes a life-changing experience for both the handler and their dog.

The staff and many wonderful volunteers of The Hearing Dog Program are dedicated to our mission and are proud of the people and dogs who so greatly enrich each other's lives.

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Testimonials From Our Amazing Community

We have trained thousands of hearing service dogs into diligent companions that aid in a variety of assistance methods.

My beloved Josie is a phenomenal hearing dog. I first learned about hearing dogs through a friend who referred me and one thing led to another, I was able to register for a fully trained hearing dog who helps me stay alert at times even when my hearing aids are in, but especially so when I'm resting or got the tv on and I can't hear the door or phone. Thank you Glenn and Ashley for the incredible support you've given me along the way.

Nancy T.

Sometime in the 1990's, I saw a poster that said, "Why not get a 45 pound hearing aid?" It was an advertisement for a program that trained hearing dogs. When I first saw the poster I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to have a hearing dog that I could take with me for companionship and help", but presumed you had to be completely deaf to get a hearing dog. I discovered that I didn't have to be completely deaf to qualify for a hearing dog and I've had Roo for 8 years.

Roo and I bonded very quickly. She came home with us every night after training class, so we could practice what we learned in class. We've continued to train Roo with new sound work skills: to alert me when the timer on the stove goes off and when the tea kettle whistles. One of her most useful and common skills is to take me to my wife, Pat, when Pat sends her for me. But this actually works both ways: many times I send Roo to fetch Pat. One of the best things about Roo is her companionship -- she constantly makes me laugh. She not only puts a smile on my face, but on most everyone that comes in contact with her.

Joel Chaban, California

As an audiologist, I have seen firsthand the dramatic impact hearing dogs can have. They have the ability to restore confidence and security to people with hearing loss.
Sharon G., California

I went completely deaf in my 50's and hearing aids aren't an option for me. I decided against cochlear implants a long time ago and learned ASL. While I am able to navigate this quiet world, I am reminded daily that life is built for those with hearing and sight. My hearing service dog, Europa, is able to alert me to alerts in my home like doorbells and smoke detectors, but I never expected her to be able to assist me better in public spaces like she does on my flights, hospital appointments and trips to the store.
Clarissa A.

The Hearing Dog training program is an essential resource for those deaf or extremely hard of hearing. These dogs are life changers and the good people of this program are an amazing resource to anyone lucky enough to receive on of these beautiful dogs. Thank you all!
Ana S.

I am a recipient of Peaches, a Hearing Dog graduate. She helped me through a time when I had begun to withdraw from society because I could not hear. Because of Peaches…I was enabled to regain the confidence I had lost.
Beth D., California

My mother has a hearing dog and I have seen firsthand the tremendous difference her dog has made to her life. I used to worry that she wouldn't hear an intruder, or fire truck on her street, and the many other sounds, dangerous or otherwise, that she simply does not hear. No more. Stirrup doesn't let one thing happen anywhere near her that he doesn't make her aware of. He is a remarkable dog, and was trained by remarkable people.
Lisa B., Nevada