Hearing dog provides safe ears

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on September 29, 2020

AN ALBANY woman, who has been deaf her entire life, has been granted the gift of new ‘furry ears’ thanks to the generosity of a local fundraising group.

Cheryl Colman approached Albany South Coast Lions Club when she required help funding a new hearing dog, as her current four-legged assistance dog was getting close to retirement.

The group leapt into action, contributing money from sausage sizzles and bargain bonanzas to help.

The group supported Ms Colman through Australian Lions Hearing Dogs, which has provided sets of ‘furry ears’ to hundreds of people across the country since 1980.

Wynne the terrier met Ms Colman last week for the very first time.

“I’ve fallen in love!” Ms Colman said.

“He is a cutie and those who see him think he’s gorgeous and just can’t help themselves and want to pat him.”

Ms Colman said having a hearing dog has made all the difference to her life, supporting her to chat with people at the shops when she wouldn’t before and giving her more independence.

“People don’t know how debilitating being hearing impaired is,” she said.

“My anxiety levels aren’t as bad now because Wynne is my ears.

“I’m very pleased that Wynne is settling in well.”

Albany South Coast Lions Club Treasurer Brian Western said it was great to support a member of the community in such a way.

“The biggest thing for us is seeing how Wynne can help fulfill and enrich Cheryl’s life,” he said.

“It’s a very big thing to see how the dog works and how he can assist someone.”

Hearing Dog Trainer Bella Pearson flew with Wynne to Albany from Adelaide to personally introduce him to his new owner.

“The dogs take about six to eight months to train,” Ms Pearson said.

“The sound training we do teaches the dogs to find the source of the sound, go back to their owner and touch them and alert them, and lead them to the sound.

“In the case of a fire alarm, the dog will alert the owner and take a specific position and lead the owner out of the house.”

Ms Pearson said Wynne was a perfect fit for Ms Colman.

“He settled in really, really well,” she said.

“It’s so nice to see them get along with their new owners.”