Ca­nine ears make living alone eas­ier

First hear­ing dog in Aus­tralia to live in a high-rise

Monthly Chronicle - - News - Jenny Bar­lass

For Maria Devlin, living alone has al­ways been a problem - not be­ing able to hear the front door, a ring­ing phone or even worse, a blar­ing smoke alarm or over­flow­ing sink.

But thanks to the tire­less fundrais­ing of Hornsby Lions, the pro­foundly deaf 48 year-old Waitara woman now has an­other set of ears to do the lis­ten­ing for her. And, say Lions, it’s the first time in Aus­tralia that a hear­ing dog has been de­ployed in a high rise strata.

Meet three year-old Sadie, a de­light­ful Mal­tese Ter­rier Cross. Sadie, who was pre­sented to a de­lighted Maria at a mov­ing cer­e­mony at Hornsby Lions event last month, can hear ev­ery­thing go­ing on in Maria’s fifth floor flat - and raise the alarm if need be.

“I can’t hear the mo­bile ring­ing, the in­ter­com, the knock at the door, the smoke alarm, or the kettle boil­ing,” says Maria. “Sadie has been trained to jump up and put her paw on me. She points me in the di­rec­tion the noise is com­ing from and I re­ward her for it.

“Other dogs might bark to do this but Sadie has been trained to know that’s no use. I can’t hear her bark­ing as I only hear low tones.

“And when I’m asleep or in the shower with­out my hear­ing aid, she comes in and alerts me. She ba­si­cally moth­ers me.”

Sadie is cer­tainly earn­ing her keep, alert­ing Maria to things around her at least four or five times a day. “Hav­ing Sadie means I can re­lax more and en­joy my life. I’m look­ing forward to sleep­ing better at night.”

Hornsby Lions Pres­i­dent John Lock­yer said that Lions Aus­tralia has de­liv­ered 560 dogs to hear­ing im­paired peo­ple around the coun­try since 1982.

“Get­ting Sadie to the point where she’s able to alert her owner to noises re­quired two train­ers over eight months train­ing at the Lion’s dogs cen­tre in Bur­den in the Ade­laide Hills, at a cost of $35,000 per dog,” ex­plain John.

“Most are res­cue dogs or re­trieved from pounds and are cho­sen for this vi­tal task for their sound sen­si­tiv­ity, though own­ers get to pick the breed based on tem­per­a­ment and coat.

“The train­ers then come to Maria’s home and test out all the sounds in a real work­ing en­vi­ron­ment with Sadie, so she knows what to do.”

Sadie’s suc­cess has now opened up the pos­si­bil­ity for more hear­ing dogs in strata lo­ca­tions around the coun­try.

Af­ter Sadie alerts Maria to a noise she can't hear, her hear­ing dog is re­warded

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