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www.hearing-dogs.co.ukHearing Dogs for Deaf People is a national charity that selects as many dogs as they can for training from rescue centres around the UK. These are a few of the rags to riches dogs that were strays, or abandoned as puppies, but now work as hearing dogs making a real difference to their deaf owners' lives.

Little terrier cross Ceri was selected by Hearing Dogs a few years ago along with her sister.

Both had been residents at the Dogs' Trust kennels at Bridgend in Wales when an assessor spotted their potential and they began their journey to becoming working hearing dog. Ceri completed all the training and was placed with profoundly deaf Barbara Bird in Norfolk in May 2001. Since then the pair have been inseparable.

Barbara takes up the story:

"Ceri was taken from the Dogs Trust in Wales by Hearing Dogs when she was a tiny puppy. Even now, I find it hard to realise what a very important event that was to prove for Ceri and me.

"After training, when I took Ceri home, I was amazed at the instant difference Ceri made to everything. My husband had died earlier that year and my loss was compounded by the fact that he had always been "my ears". I had gone from being a sociable, chatty sort of person to spending too much time hiding away from life.

"I didn't know if the phone rang or someone was at the door and I frequently forgot food was cooking in the oven and set the smoke alarm off. I couldn't hear it, of course, and was so embarrassed to see a neighbour at the window to tell me what was happening. I had even stopped getting up at my normal time - what was the point? Ceri soon changed all of this!

"When out for a walk with Ceri, she made friends both canine and human for both of us and turned it into something which has become a daily social occasion. Before Ceri came, I was rapidly losing my independence and never strayed far from the phone, but now I can go where I please in the certain knowledge that my helpmate will come and tell me whenever there is a sound I can't hear. She has literally turned my life round. Without Ceri I would not have the confidence to venture out at night. She truly has revolutionised my way of life.

"Her presence when we are out and about alerts others to my deafness and this in turn is very helpful as deafness is invisible and that makes it hard to communicate.

"She is a credit to Hearing Dogs, her socialisers and the lady who left a bequest in her will to sponsor a hearing dog. This was a most precious gift. I am eternally grateful fo everyone who made this partnership possible but especially to Ceri who has endeared herself to me in so many ways. I owe my present independence and enjoyment of life to her and can't imagine how things would have been without her."

Bailey was a resident at Battersea Dogs' Home when he was spotted by Hearing Dogs as being a possible recruit for training.

He turned out to be a bit of a character, and has had several brushes with fame since he came under Hearing Dogs' wing.

During his soundwork training, Bailey and his trainer, Bruce, were approached by Battersea to appear in their Annual Review as an example of an "old boy" that has gone on to bigger and better things. Obviously Bailey agreed, and duly posed for photographs like a professional. His story was also featured in Battersea's supporters' magazine as a shining example for future residents of the Home. Bailey is now happily working as a hearing dog, living with his deaf owner in Oxfordshire.

Ria, Lucy and Paddy

If you feel you can help or would like to know more, contact details and further information are on the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People website: www.hearing-dogs.co.uk.

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