When the phone or the doorbell rings at Thelma Czubak’s home, Shine, an 8-year-old golden retriever, helps by alerting her hearing impaired owner. With a gentle nudge, Shine, a service dog trained by Paws With A Cause, lets Czubak know about the noise.
“If the smoke alarm goes off or the microwave, or if the phone rings, she will go and get me,” Czubak said. “These dogs will do anything.”
Czubak brought Shine to a May 16 meeting of the Hearing Loss Association of Macomb at Henry Ford Medical Center-Lakeside in Sterling Heights. The group offered a presentation about how Paws With A Cause assists those who have lost all or part of their hearing.
Diane Barrett, Paws With A Cause client services representative, described the options available for a hearing impaired person. Barrett brought her dog, Gyro, a Labrador retriever mix, which was trained as a service dog. Service dog Lizzie, along with her owner, was also present at the meeting.
During the hour-long presentation, Barrett demonstrated Gyro’s ability to answer a timer and explained the other ways dogs assist. A hearing dog not only alerts owners of typical household noises, but canines may also be trained to respond to a baby crying, someone breaking into the home, their owner’s name being called and more.
“Some people have a hard time hearing the emergency sirens (when driving) so we teach the dog to alert the person by putting their paw on the person from behind,” Barrett said.
Barrett added that dogs are trained to respond to almost any noise requested by the owner, including the noise made by a clothes dryer.
“They want the dog to alert them to the sound of the buzzer so that they don’t have to do any ironing,” Barrett said. “There’s a lot of things they can do. It’s really very personal to what’s beneficial to the person.”
It takes about five months to train a hearing dog. Almost any breed, with a few exceptions, will do as long as the dog shows curiosity for sound and has a good work ethic.
Dogs are trained, using food rewards, in a specific sound sequence. The dog hears the sound, goes to the sound, and then returns to the person and alerts them with a nudge or a paw. They will then take the person to the sound. Paws With A Cause trains dogs to assist hearing impaired owners at home, work and in public. Dogs are trained using sign language. “For those people using sign language, the dog fully understands what’s being asked of them,” Barrett said.
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Source Newspapers Published: Friday, June 03, 2011