Hearing dog transforms young girl's life

Bucks Free Press: Sarah Mohammadi with her dog Waffle Sarah Mohammadi with her dog Waffle

A YOUNG deaf girl called Sarah said she received the "best present ever" last year when she received a hearing dog puppy to help her with every day life.

Sarah Mohammadi was too scared to sleep alone in silence at night but Waffle, the white Cockapoo, changed all that when he arrived in her life two weeks before Christmas last year.

When Sarah was born, she contracted a viral infection which resulted in hearing loss and some learning difficulties.

But it wasn’t until Sarah was two and a half years old that she was diagnosed as severely deaf, by which time she had very little speech.

Sarah became very frustrated trying to communicate with her family, and she so badly wanted to make friends with other children at nursery, but her lack of communication made that difficult.

She began to learn British Sign Language, but this didn’t help her to communicate with children in the hearing world.

Up to the age of eight, Sarah had never slept in her own bed, as she was too frightened to be alone in silence at night.

She would always go into her parent’s room for comfort and security. Extreme tiredness just compounded her frustration at home and school, and she found it difficult to concentrate.

But then Waffle arrived from the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People charity in Saunderton.

The first night that Waffle slept in her bedroom, Sarah slept there for the first time too. She describes him as "the best present I could ever get."

Sarah’s mum Sabedah said: "Sleeping in her own room was just, well, wow. I can’t put into words how incredible that was.

"Sarah has just been so happy to have Waffle there at night. She feels more secure. For a few nights she would wake up just to check he was still there, but now she sleeps soundly. He’s made such a huge difference to Sarah but he’s also changed the quality of our lives too."

The family has noticed many other changes in Sarah too. Before she had Waffle, Sarah was afraid to talk to new people.

Sebedah said: "Whenever someone new tried to talk to Sarah, she would hide behind me. Now Sarah will happily take Waffle to the park to play football and when she meets new people she proudly says ‘This is my dog!’

"She’s so much more confident, her speech is developing and her real character has come out. Her school teachers say her concentration is better and she is becoming more independent. This is exactly what we wanted for her when we applied for a hearing dog, and Waffle has been amazing."

And there is going to be another special Hearing Dog's puppy in a new home this year called Brody.

He is a ten week old Poodle puppy and is going to Peter and Hazel Dixon who live in Princes Risborough.

They are looking after Brody as volunteer puppy socialisers, who prepare their puppy for all different people and environments that they will encounter as a hearing dog, but they are also responsible for teaching their puppy basic obedience skills.

It is the second dog the couple have socialised. Their first was a chocolate Labrador called Penny.

Puppies are placed with their volunteer socialiser at around eight weeks of age and will work with them at home for around a year, before they return to the Charity for an eighteen week advance sound work course at The Grange. They are then matched with a deaf recipient and will go on to transform that person’s life.

And Peter said they are all looking forward to Brody's first Christmas. Their grandson, Joel, has already decided Brody is "his dog".

Peter added: "I'm sure that Joel will insist that Brody has his own stocking so that Father Christmas can bring his new toys but I don't think he'll be getting an orange or walnuts - probably a tasty chew or three."

For more details go to www.hearingdogs.org.uk/

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