Ca­nine friend makes a sound dif­fer­ence

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By MON­ICA TISCHLER

The alarm clock, door bell or tele­phone are sounds most of us don’t think twice about hear­ing.

But with­out the help of her hear­ing dog Celia King would sleep in or leave a vis­i­tor wait­ing.

The Auck­land woman is pro­foundly deaf and re­lies on Kiri to let her know when a noise sounds.

‘‘When my alarm goes off Kiri paws the bed and wakes me up,’’ Mrs King says.

‘‘I’ve trained her so if there’s an am­bu­lance com­ing while I’m driv­ing she’ll sit up and be­come very alert so I know I need to get out of the way.

‘‘You come to de­pend on them and we have such a strong bond. She’s like an ex­ten­sion of my­self,’’ she says.

The con­nec­tion shared by Mrs King and Kiri is just one fea­tured in a book ex­plor­ing the role of dogs whose ac­tions save and mend bro­ken hu­man lives.

Dogs in Ac­tion by Maria Alo­ma­jan looks at the dif­fer­ent roles dogs play from track­ing ele­phant poach­ers in Africa, digging for avalanche sur­vivors in Switzer­land, de­tect­ing hid­den ex­plo­sives in wartorn Afghanistan and com­fort­ing the elderly in New Zealand.

A hear­ing dog alerts its owner to noises they can’t hear and works in a sim­i­lar way to a guide dog for some­one who is blind.

Mrs King has self-taught the three-year-old golden col­lie ev­ery­thing she needs to know about be­ing at­ten­tive to sound.

She says Kiri was born with a sixth sense and hasn’t yet made her late for work or burn a meal.

‘‘At nine weeks old she would hear the oven timer or the phone ring and know she had to let me know. It’s like she was born into the role.’’

The friend­ship shared be­tween the two is ev­i­dent while watch­ing Kiri and her owner in­ter­act with each other.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple who lose their hear­ing can miss out so­cially and a dog pro­vides com­pan­ion­ship,’’ she says.

‘‘Be­cause I can’t hear well, Kiri gives me con­fi­dence in so­cial sit­u­a­tions.’’

Au­thor and free­lance jour­nal­ist Ms Alo­ma­jan was in­spired to write the book af­ter want­ing to train one of her three dogs into a more of­fi­cial role.

‘‘I wanted to give peo­ple a broad idea of what dogs are ca­pa­ble of so they can look at their pets and think ‘ wow’,’’ she says.

More than 40 dogs are fea­tured in the book and Ms Alo­ma­jan says dogs’ abil­i­ties are al­most lim­it­less.

‘‘It’s just a mat­ter of hu­mans har­ness­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and guid­ing dogs in the di­rec­tion they want to go in.’’

Photo: MON­ICA TISCHLER

Com­pan­ions: Celia King and her hear­ing dog Kiri.

Go to auck­land­har­bournews. co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see Kiri’s work in ac­tion.

Dogs in Ac­tion is avail­able in book­stores na­tion­wide and from ex­islepub­lish­ing.co.nz.

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