Tesco’s friendship with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
I first heard of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People way back in 1992. My father had sadly passed away the previous year, leaving behind his beloved German Shepherd. The dog pined for my father so badly he also sadly passed away, due to epilepsy complications. My mother decided she would like a companion but was unsure about another large dog, so my sister suggested a trip to Hearing Dogs.
She explained that dogs who, for various reasons, did not finish their training still needed forever homes and she wanted to show Mum how clever these ‘little dogs’ were.
From that visit they were directed to a lady who had a possible candidate for rehoming with Mum. Cue the arrival of Red, a cute Papillon (Butterfly) dog who was a feisty, lively little character and so different from any of the large breed dogs that I had grown up with/owned. Red certainly led my then 10 stone Rottweiler a merry dance, bossing him around and keeping him on his toes.
Fast forward to meeting Peter Shepperd, a full-time volunteer puppy trainer in store with his latest puppy. As usual, I just had to know more, so I had a chat about how Tesco could support/help with fundraising?
Once again, little did I imagine how this would lead to an ongoing friendship with our paths crossing at different events, from telling the puppy’s stories in pictures on the community board, providing treats, bucket collections, having a stall next to each other at Hazlemere Fete, to being part of ‘Proudwater Paws’ Race for Life team.
Peter, along with his wife Sharon, got involved with Hearing Dogs 7 years ago after a chance meeting in a supermarket with a volunteer socialising an excited Labrador puppy. Starting out as holiday cover, they progressed to full time volunteers over the next 2 years. They are usually given a puppy aged 8/9 weeks who lives with them for about a year whilst being trained to be well behaved, confident and obedient, usually by the age of 14 months.
They attend puppy classes and socialise the puppy visiting a variety of locations including shops, pubs, restaurants, parks, busy streets, stations, going on buses, trains and aircraft, thus exposing them to anything they may encounter during their working life.
The training is reward-led meaning good behaviour equals a treat which is one of the ways Tesco supports.
Peter and Sharon have been involved with over 50 dogs, some staying for a day, 3 weeks, or a year, and have been full time trainers to 6 dogs; 5 of these dogs are out working with their partners and the 6th is finishing training soon.
There are many ways to volunteer with Hearing Dogs other than becoming a puppy trainer. I must admit this is a role I simply could not do as I’m sure I would become too attached, but fundraising, public speaking and working in the gift shop or restaurant are just some of vital roles to play.
Hopefully, there is something for anyone who wishes to be involved. Visit www.hearingdogs.org for more information.
Loudwaters’ Tesco Claire