(Borrowed heavily from Peter Stelmacovich's "Deafened But Not Silent" blog)
1. When I sleep at night, I sleep heavily. That's when I sleep. I have insomnia as well. Between that, my ADHD, the noise from my CPAP machine and Goddess knows what else, I do not hear fire alarms or, sometimes, alarm clocks. Or, I hear them, but can ignore them and sleep right through. Vibrations don't wake me, and neither do flashing lights. A dog will waken me. Bosley used to poke me with his cold, wet nose. If that didn't work, he taught himself to hit me AND to jump on top of me if he had to. That worked!
Peter pointed out that most fires occur at night when people are asleep. A time when hearing aids are not worn. A hearing ear dog will physically wake me up, whereas a fire alarm (auditory or visual) will not.
2. I don't always wear hearing aids. Yes, shocking. But remember - growing up, I was in the majority. Only my mom and one of my three brothers were hearing. The rest of us (dad, two brothers, granddad, great-grandma, etc.) were born hard of hearing. We didn't have hearing aids until later in life. I grew up without hearing aids and so did my brothers, father and grandfather. I don't think hearing aids were even available for my great-grandmother and her mom!!! To this day, hearing aids can overwhelm me after awhile, and I need a break. The dog can keep me alerted to things I need to hear. But even with hearing aids, I still don't always hear things I need to hear, so a dog is necessary, even WITH my hearing aids.
3. Yes, I really am "that deaf". Technically, my hearing is considered, binaural (both ears) sensori-neural (nerve deafness) and is severe. If I had a dollar for every time I'm told, "But you don't sound hard of hearing", or "You cope so well", and "You don't really need a dog, do you?" .... Thank you for the compliments, but trust me, the dog is necessary. Yes, I can sing and hold a tune well. Yes, I sang solos in church. Yes, I can even play a couple of musical instruments (poorly), and yes, I can't hear! And what the hell does a hard of hearing person "sound like" anyway? Jeez.
4. Even with hearing aids, I can still miss things. The dog, as Peter said in his blog, ensures consistency.
5. I can't hear doorbells or door knocks. I don't always hear my name called. I'm not a snob. I'm not ignoring you. The dog will alert me to people hollering out my name, and people won't be offended because I've supposedly ignored them.
6. I have a timer and have used it for years. However - remember that comment about ADHD? I don't always remember to bring the timer with me. So my laundry gets forgotten and starts to get musty-smelling, or I accidentally overcook or even burn my food -- Goddess help me if I ever fall asleep with the stove on and the timer in the other room! The dog again, ensures that I will remember to change the laundry from the washer and into the dryer, or to get my dinner out of the oven. Or get up in the morning and go to work.
7. If I know someone is coming to my house, I have to sit by the door and wait. Can't do anything else, because if I do, I won't hear. That includes reading a book. I can't reliably hear door knocks or bells from other parts of my apartment. The dog will be able to hear those sounds for me.
8. As a woman who has to go out at night, I can't hear if someone is behind me. While the dog is not a watch dog, I do get peace of mind knowing that the dog will tell me if someone is behind me by looking over his/her shoulder and beyond me. That is immeasurable. You can't buy that kind of assurance. Right now without a dog, I feel more anxious and my chronic depression is deepening.
8. I sleep better at night knowing someone is there listening for me. Whenever I got a little anxious, I would put my foot (or my bum) over a titch and feel the dog right there. I would smile and fall back to sleep. I'm not doing that now, and my insomnia is getting worse.
9. Shopping and travelling are actually easier with a working dog. Same thing with going into a store or a restaurant. Without the dog, people might treat me as a dim-watt, because I can't hear what's being said to me, or I think I hear what's being said and answer inappropriately. Despite two (and a half) degrees from a major Canadian university (U of T, dammit!), and an IQ of 130, it only takes an instant of answering something incorrectly to have people giving me "The Look". Having a service dog with me reminds people that I might not always hear and that's okay. It reminds airline staff I cannot hear the
announcements to board so they come get me ahead of time for
pre-boarding. It reminds wait staff to repeat and not get flustered or frustrated with me. It reminds store clerks that I'm not about to steal the TV off the stand if I ignore their repeated "Can I help you" questions that I don't hear.
10. And finally - yet another wonderful quote from Peter. Hearing ear dogs help to filter out the (ahem) Jerks of the world. I'll leave you to ponder that last remark. ;-)
For more information on Hearing Ear Dogs see the links below:
Lions Foundation of Canada (Dog Guides)
Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS)