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Hearing dogs have life-saving ears

Izzy, the hearing dog, acts as a second set of ears for Tuntable Creek owner Vicki Thrower, alerting her to smoke alarms, telephones ringing, boiling kettles and visitors knocking at the door.
Izzy, the hearing dog, acts as a second set of ears for Tuntable Creek owner Vicki Thrower, alerting her to smoke alarms, telephones ringing, boiling kettles and visitors knocking at the door.

VICKI THROWER hadn't planned on having a dog.

But now the trained veterinary nurse, who is aware of very few sounds without hearing aids, wouldn't be without Izzy.

The friendly two-year-old terrier, who came from a pound in South Australia, is her ears.

“She alerts me to the fire alarm, the phone ringing, the timer on the oven, the kettle whistling, the smoke alarm and a knock at the door,” says Ms Thrower, of Tuntable Creek.

“I feel so much more secure and confident having her in the house.”

Izzy is the first Lions Hearing Dogs Inc dog to be sponsored by Lismore Lions, although there are other assistance dogs in the Northern Rivers area.

The cost is close to $2000 and that covers training that can take up to nine months.

During their time at the training centre in Adelaide, dogs have regular trips to shopping centres, ride on buses and are taken to surrounding townships to familiarise them with places they will encounter once delivered to their new owners.

For another three months, Lismore Lions members will visit Ms Thrower and Izzy three times a week to see that the little terrier is performing her tasks, according to treasurer Richard Adams.

But they needn't worry about Izzy, because she's already a pro.

“She jumped on the bed last night to alert me to the fire alarm going off,” Ms Thrower said.

It was a fire in the oven that first led her doctor to suggest she apply to the Lions' program for help.

Since it was established in 1981, Lions Hearing Dogs Inc has matched nearly 500 dogs to people with hearing difficulties.

Program manager Bill Holmes said the majority of dogs came from the pound, although some were donated by breeders.

“We look for a dog that doesn't show aggression when approached, that is food motivated, sound aware, outgoing and reasonably active. We don't want a dog that just wants to sleep all day.”

After a hard days' work, Izzy retires to her own bed on the floor – “I don't encourage her to jump on the furniture and I ask people out inpublic not to give her too many pats because that is how I reward her” – before another day on the job.

Her favourite activities include going to visit Ms Thrower's two horses and taking a ride in the car into town. “She loves socialising with other dogs and gets very excited,” Ms Thrower said.

Donations to support the Lions Hearing Dogs program are always needed. For more info go to: www.hearingdogs.asn.au.

SOUND TRAINING

The dogs let their owners know when:

  • The telephone/mobile rings
  • There is a knock at the door or the doorbell rings
  • The microwave sounds
  • The smoke alarm is triggered
  • The baby cries
  • The kettle whistles

Topics:  northern rivers


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