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Downley woman: My hearing dog has changed my life
A DOWNLEY woman who did not find out she was deaf until she was 27 said her hearing dog has opened up a whole new world to her.
Carol Ann Hatt, 43, from Hithercroft Road in Downley, said her life has been changed since her pet dog, Marly, trained to become a Hearing Dog.
Her friend gave her the chocolate Labrador when she saw the strong bond between the two.
And having already applied for a dog from Hearings Dogs for Deaf People which is based at The Grange in Saunderton, she asked if Marly could be trained.
The charity, which is celebrating its 30th year, said they do assess pet dogs.
Carol Ann said: "We thought he was never going to pass. He is very intelligent but a cheeky boy. He's quite loopy. I kept thinking he is going to fail."
He went along to the Saunderton base for two weeks and passed the first stage with flying colours.
He was then put on four months training and again he excelled, and became a hearing dog.
Marly helps Carol Ann in her every day life. He nose nudges her to make her aware of sounds she cannot hear. For example, the doorbell ringing, the phone ringing, smoke alarms and her morning alarms.
She also has an alarm which she puts on if she is doing something like running a bath, so she does not forget. He comes and gets her and takes her to the alarm.
Carol Ann did not find out she was deaf until she was 27. She went for a hearing test for her eight-month-old son, Cam, who is now 14, and discovered she could not hear certain sounds.
She now wears two hearing aids. She said: "It answered why I felt low and not motivated. When I first got my hearing aids I went into the woods and heard bird song and I burst into tears. I thought what else I have been missing?"
It explained why she had always struggled at school and why her twin had always seemed more academic.
Research conducted by the charity showed that more than four in five recipients (82%) said that hearing loss had left them feeling lonely while almost the same number (78%) said that being made to feel isolated was another negative emotion associated with their deafness.
A total of 92% of those surveyed said that after being partnered with a hearing dog, they felt more secure, while 89% said that they felt that they were far more approachable when out in public with a hearing dog – identified through its special burgundy jacket – by their side.
Carol Ann said she feels more confident going out by herself and due to the burgundy jacket Marly wears when they go out the public are more aware of her deafness.
Friend, Sarah Venables, who lives around the corner from Carol Ann and has a son called Jake, with a hearing impairment said: "When he puts his coat on it is like he is in his business suit. He knows he is working."
She said being able to talk to Carol Ann helps her understand what Jake is going through.
Marly helped give Carol Ann away when she married Steve in April. Marly, who is four this month, carried the rings in a bow tie around his neck.
Carol Ann said: "Marly has opened up a whole new world to me. He has given me back my independence and with him by my side, I feel so much more confident. I feel safer knowing that he’ll let me know if there’s something happening that I need to be aware of, but almost as importantly, he’s like a friend to me and much of the loneliness I used to feel has gone."
Over the past 30 years, Hearing Dogs has created over 1,600 partnerships – currently there are over 750 hearing dog partnerships across the UK.
The Charity is a non-government funded organisation and relies on the support of the public.
For more information on Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and to donate go to: www.hearingdogs.org.uk.