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.