Bedford dog lovers got to help Hearing Dogs off to a great start

Cockapoo Freckles. Image: Dogs for the Deaf

Dog lovers in Bedford are being asked to help the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People by fostering puppies to become hearing dogs to help more people with hearing loss.

Hearing dogs for deaf people are now in their 40th year and the demand for their service has recently increased by 30%.

Due to this increase, people in Bedford are now being asked to help breed young Cocker Spaniels, Labradors, Cockapoos and Miniature Poodles to become life-changing hearing dogs for deaf people.

Once trained, these intelligent dogs will alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds such as doorbells, alarm clocks, smoke alarms and even baby monitors.

They also provide constant emotional support and companionship, helping deaf people to overcome loneliness and reconnect with life.

Jason and Donna Parke, from Bedford, volunteered for the charity and said it had been “life-changing”, although it could have been difficult.

“Being a Volunteer Puppy Trainer is the most rewarding and emotional thing we do as a family,” they said.

“It can be difficult at times, but the pride you feel when you go to ‘go to work’ is something you can’t put into words.”

“There are a few tears, but knowing that the dog you helped train will change someone’s life makes it all worth it.

“It helped our kids understand the importance of helping others. It changed ours just as it changed someone else’s life.

“We love getting out in the fresh air and have made so many new friends – volunteering for the Charity feels like you’re part of a family.”

Full training and support

Anyone who volunteers to raise a puppy will receive full guidance and support from a local trainer.

All costs associated with training the dog, including food, insurance and veterinary costs, will be covered by the charity.

In return, you will help them gradually introduce their pup to new experiences and environments such as supermarkets, restaurants, shops and public transport.

This will help them gain the confidence to help a deaf person wherever they go as an accredited assistance dog.

There will also be weekly lessons so puppies can learn the skills they need to be a well-behaved dog before learning to alert deaf people to sounds.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to experience the joy of dog ownership without all the financial responsibilities, whilst making a real difference to the lives of deaf people,” said Victoria Leedham, head of Hearing Dogs for the Deaf Volunteers.

“You’ll meet like-minded people, make new friends and get lots of support from us every step of the way.

“If you think you could offer one of our lovely pups a loving home, we’d love to hear from you.”

The role would be perfect for a dog lover in Bedfords who lives in a house with a secure garden and has free time every day.

For online dog training classes, you will need a computer and video calling capabilities.

Unfortunately, the Charity is unable to process applications from full-time employees, even if they work from Home.

The charity is also encouraging those who may be reconsidering getting a pet due to a housing crisis to consider looking after one of their puppies.

Anyone interested in finding out more or applying can visit hearingdogs.org.uk/volunteer and you can find out more by emailing volunteer@hearingdogs.org.uk or calling 01844 348129 .

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