When out and about with my dog, Tilly, I have been known to refer to her as my ‘unofficial hearing dog’ as a bit of an ice-breaker when meeting new people. I do this as a way of letting them know they’re talking to a deafened person and that I might not be able to follow everything they’re saying. I’ve also used the term in my writing and in my event speaking in the context of telling people about the five year waiting list there is for an official hearing dog. And, I sometimes speak about how, when I lost my hearing suddenly, I suffered panic attacks and a loss of confidence in going out of the house without my husband. I felt I just couldn’t wait that five years for a dog and so we started looking for a rescue dog to adopt to keep me company and help me feel more secure when my husband goes out.
Tilly is a rescue Westie – an ex-breeding bitch from an illegal ‘puppy farm’. She lets me know when someone’s at the door (by barking and running to the front door or if we’re in a room where the door is closed, she lets it be known she wants to get out of that room so she can run to the front door). However, when the phone rings, the smoke alarm sounds or the burglar alarm goes off, she does absolutely nothing at all. She is clearly not a proper hearing dog!