Hearing dogs enable those who are deaf or hard of hearing to be more aware of their surroundings. These dogs can accompany their disabled handler into public settings and will naturally give off sound cues to the handler.
For example, if the dog looks to his left the handler will know their is an auditory signal coming from that direction, which prompts the handler to look to their left to see if it is something they should respond to.
Hearing dogs are also trained to purposefully alert their handler to certain sounds in the home. These dogs are trained to paw at their handler’s leg when the smoke alarm goes off, the doorbell rings, the microwave dings, or the teakettle whistles. Our dogs are trained on a case by case basis for the specific sounds each recipient will need to be alerted to.
These dogs can be a small or large breed, as size is not a factor.
Is a Little Angels Hearing Dog Right for Me?
In order to receive a Hearing Dog from Little Angels, you must:
- Be deaf or hard of hearing, with documentation from your doctor supporting your disability.
- Have strong communication skills and the ability to be consistent with a dog regarding training exercises.
- Have a love for dogs.
- Have patience to work through problems (even a trained dog is still a dog).
- Have finances to provide your dog with veterinary care and maintenance for the next 10-12 years.
- Be willing to travel to San Diego, California or Bartlett, New Hampshire for Handler Training, preferably with a translator if needed.
Handler Training is where the disabled party learns how to work with the dog as a team. This generally takes 14 days, with training every day. This is when the dog learns to respond to the commands of the handler, and when the handler learns how to reinforce the training that the dog has already received. We cover practical, day-to-day life experiences so you will feel confident taking the dog into your care. We work in real-life situations such as outings to shopping malls, restaurants, and parks so you will feel comfortable taking the dog with you into the public setting.
After the completion of Handler Training, we work together on a series of field tests, which are administered by the trainer. After graduation, you and your dog will be certified as a working team. A certification card will be provided to the handler, as well as a service vest and identification tag for your dog, which labels him or her as a service animal.
We have a lifetime commitment to each recipient and each dog that we place. Once you and your dog have graduated we maintain contact to ensure that your dog’s training and assistance remains in tact, that the dog remains healthy and happy, and that the dog is improving your quality of life.
What are the Steps Involved for Receiving a Hearing Dog?
- Submit an application through our Apply for a Service Dog page
- Submit a personal referral and medical documentation: If your initial application looks like a good fit our team will reach out and ask for these documents.
- If accepted, we will contact you to schedule a phone consultation: The consultation is an average of 60 minutes during which we discuss realistic expectations of how a service dog can assist you, and to make sure you are a good fit for one of our dogs.
- The agreement: If we believe one of our service dogs can assist you we will write out a customized agreement and ask you to review your final decision with friends and family.
- Return your agreement with your $500 minimum deposit, to be added to our waiting list: The deposit is your sign to us that you are committed to the program.
- Fundraising: Organizations nationwide spend an average of $50,000 on each assistance dog trained. The average service dog graduates with over 600 hours of training, and with that expense also comes veterinary care, boarding, grooming and training supplies. Because of the commitment of all our wonderful volunteers, Little Angels spends $38,000 per dog. This is an expense covered through fundraising. We ask our recipients to be responsible for the first 1/4 of the expense, which is $9,500. This is usually covered through fundraising, and we are happy to help guide you through that process.
- Dog Selection and Specialized Training: Once the funds are met, regardless of how the funds were raised, we move you to the second part of our waiting list where you are a priority for dog placement. This is when we choose a dog from our training program that has the natural propensities to assist in the ways needed for your disability, and we continue any additional specialized training needed specifically for your needs.
- Handler Training: During handler training we work with you, one-on-one and show you how to reinforce the training your dog has already had. Once you and your dog graduate our program we stay in daily contact for the first month, followed by monthly, and bi-yearly consultations for reports on your dog’s ability to continuously provide assistance to you. Handler Training takes place in San Diego, California or Bartlett, New Hampshire.