How I Made My Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms

For the first 12 years of my life, I slept peacefully through the majority of thunderstorms. If I ever awoke, it was during a strike so violent everybody in the house was awake, and huddled in my mother’s bed.

With half an eardrum in one ear and no eardrum in the other, the idea of a thunderstorm being frightening seemed silly. Why would pretty flashing lights with next to no sound be scary? As long as there was no thunder, storms seemed like a ridiculous thing to fear.

Summer 2005, however, would change this idea for the rest of my life.

Almost one year after my left eardrum was repaired and half my hearing was restored, the horror of strange sounds hit me.

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Hearing Dogs Do Sound Work

I’m sure everyone has an idea of what they think a Hearing Dog does in terms of helping a recipient – but when I spent two days at the Beatrice Wright Centre for my assessment for a hearing dog, I learnt they did even more than I thought.

I knew they alerted you to fire alarms, door bell and telephone (if you use one) and, while at the fun dog show Pup Aid in London in 2014, I’d seen a Hearing Dogs demonstration, starring Sue Perkins from the Great British Bake Off in the role of a deaf person. The crowd oohed and ahhed as the demo dog ‘woke’ Sue from her bed when an alarm clock sounded and when they displayed amazing recall and obedience skills.

On top of this, I’d met a couple of hearing dog recipients who told me having a hearing dog was the best thing that had ever happened to them — and they shared with me the boost in confidence and independence their dogs give them on a daily basis. Both encouraged me to pursue an application and so I did.

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Sit. Wait. Off You Go. The Training Regime of a Hearing Dog.

Assistance dogs have a reputation for being well-behaved and there’s a reason for this: they have a LOT of training!

At the UK charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, puppies are socialised by volunteer Puppy Socialisers who work with the pups to get them house-trained, confident in various settings, comfortable around people and other dogs and happy to walk on a lead. They also start them off with the basic commands of ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ and train them to come when called.

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Not all Hearing Dogs are Labradors

I’ve wanted a Hearing Dog so much for so long — but I thought it might never happen. When life throws you curveball after curveball, it’s easy to become a pessimist. But on a sunny day in January 2015, I found myself on my way to the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People’s Beatrice Wright Centre (named after Lady Beatrice Wright, co-founder of the UK charity) in the rural location of Bierley in East Yorkshire.

Hearing Dogs are trained to alert deaf people to specific household sounds and danger signals in the home and when out and about. Since dramatically losing most of my hearing, I became convinced that a Hearing Dog would help give me confidence and independence I had lost, and so I embarked on the application process.

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