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How to Apply for a Hearing Dog

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Dear Friends, We are pleased to announce that The Hearing Dog Program (HDP) is once again accepting new applications for Hearing Dogs!
Generous donations from both private individuals and community organizations mean more formerly-homeless dogs are ready to be trained and placed with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Early in 2012, The California, Nevada, Hawaii State Association of Emblem Clubs generously donated $15,000 to The Hearing Dog Program. Last fall, the Clubs donated an additional $10,000 in memory of past members Doris Heard and Maxine Harvey. Doris, who recently passed away at the age of 107, was the chairman of the Clubs’ Hearing Dog Committee for over 30 years! Thank you to Doris, Maxine, current committee chair Irene Sullivan, and the many members of Emblem Clubs for your support! In September 2012, The Institute for Canine Studies (ICS), of Monterey, California, graciously donated $30,000 to The Hearing Dog Program. They wrote that after a visit to HDP they, “came away very impressed by the effectiveness of your service dog program and eager to be involved in your efforts.” We sincerely appreciate this wonderful donation from ICS! We appreciate everyone’s donations and other support which enable us to fulfill our mission of “Improving independence and quality of life through highly trained Hearing Dogs.” Please contact Glenn at: for more information. You can also reach us by phone at (650) 898-9117, via U.S. mail or through our website. Best regards and thank you again for helping to transform the lives of people and dogs, D. Glenn Martyn, Executive Director The Hearing Dog Program San Francisco

Follow these steps to apply for a Hearing Dog

Step 1:

Consider your current hearing needs and dog handling skills.
Realize the commitment a dog is for an individual, family, neighbors and/or roommate. Research what a Hearing Dog is and does. Our current waiting list is long and your wait for a Hearing Dog may be up to 4 years.

Step 2:

Request an application.
Contact the Hearing Dog Program (HDP): Call (650) 898-9117, email or mail a request to 2912 Diamond St, #221, San Francisco, CA 94131. You will receive an application via email or in the mail.

Step 3:

Complete the application and return it to the HDP with required documents: a $25 application fee, two letters of reference and pictures of your home and yard.
These documents allow us to better match your needs with the abilities and characteristics of a Hearing Dog in training. One letter of reference should be from a professional addressing your need for a Hearing Dog. The second letter of reference should be from someone who knows you and can speak to your dog handling skills and experience. You may mail, email or fax the completed form. It must have your signature on the last page.

Step 4:

Your application is reviewed by the Application Review Committee. If information is missing or needs clarification, you will be notified. Failure to provide accurate and complete information initially may delay the application process.

Step 5:

Applicant list approval.
If approved, your name is entered on the applicant waiting list. Applicants are listed based on the date the complete application was received in our office. However, past graduates needing successor Hearing Dogs are given priority, as they have already demonstrated ability and need. Please provide updates regularly as you experience changes in your life. (for example; change of job, move to a new home, or medical situation change)

Step 6:

Becoming a candidate.
Upon review of the Applicant List and comparison to our current dogs in training, the Hearing Dog Program staff makes suggestions for applicants to be matched with dogs that are ready to complete their training. These applicants become candidates, whereby they are asked to attend training sessions with a particular dog and trainer. This may be one-on-one, as a group or a combination of both – all are very important to the success of the Hearing Dog Team. Whenever possible, the candidate is encouraged to come to San Francisco to participate in this training, to maximize the bond with their new Hearing Dog and minimize expenses for the program.

Step 7:

Completing your training.
As the Hearing Dog Team completes training, they receive a certificate indicating this success based on standards by which we operate, which are set by Assistance Dogs International.

Step 8:

Each year, the HDP recognizes the Hearing Dog Teams in their community as well as within our Hearing Dog Program family. The graduating teams are presented with diplomas during this fundraiser, social gathering, Hearing Dog Team reunion, luncheon and fun time.

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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