Learning BSL can bring out strange behaviours. Recently, I have caught myself not just signing to my husband and child, but also to our cat – Sox. Upon confessing this behaviour to my husband, he sheepishly confirmed that he has been doing this too. It seems we both instinctively felt that our inquisitive, naughty and most definitely clever cat, would somehow understand gestures more than spoken word. So I was also delighted today to read the latest article from ‘Speak up librarian’ and to discover that she too has started signing to her dog. It’s is worth reading more here: www.speakuplibrarian.blogspot.com – apparently it’s not as mad as it seems!
A few weeks ago we went to a Hearing Dogs Fun Day. I guess we’ve all heard of guide dogs for the blind but I had never heard of hearing dogs before my brother alerted me to the website. We congregated in a huge field at the Hearing Dog Headquarters in Saunderton, took up a pew on a haystack, and watched a brilliant display and explanation of what hearing dogs can do for profoundly deaf people.
The dogs are socialised with a family and then trained at the headquarters to respond specifically to sound so that by their first birthday they can be the ears for a deaf person at home and outside, day and night, literally changing lives through increasing confidence and independance.
Smiling flower was in her element. She is very excited by all animals at the moment and particularly enjoyed stroking a little white dog while her parents held a faltering sign language conversation with the owner. The exciting news is that Hearing Dogs UK have just started trialing the dogs with younger people with fantastic results. A couple of young girls at the day said that now they felt confident to sleep in their own room because they knew the dog would wake them up if there was an intruder or fire alarm etc. This is what the website says:
The aim of the pilot project was to look into and evaluate how team hearing dogs impact the lives of the children and families involved.
We have focussed on behavioural, emotional and developmental issues linked to deafness in children. These include:
– Low self-esteem, Limited social interaction, Social isolation, Poor self-image, and Sleep problems
Research notes that deaf children are four times more likely to have issues that impact on their emotional health and well being, than their hearing peers. The evaluation is showing very positive outcomes to date and we hope to publish results in December 2011.
Having grown up with a King Charles Spaniel at my side, I know what a wonderful companion a dog can be. I whispered all sorts of things into our dog’s big floppy ears, and I had confidence to walk for miles through the welsh countryside when he was by my side. Now we can hope that smiling flower will also gain confidence and friendship in the years to come with her very own dog, who will have the priceless added extra of also being her ears.
‘Hearing Dogs’ was founded as recently as 1982, by Ben Fogle’s father. Since then it has placed 1600 dogs with deaf recipients across the UK. It cost £45,000 to fund a dog for a child and there is currently a waiting list of 5 years for adult hearing dogs to be placed. However, if you want to sponsor a puppy for just £3 a month, or simply find out more, this is their website: www.hearingdogsorg.uk