HEARING DOGS FOR DEAF PEOPLE  - HEARING DOG PIN-UP NO. 1: RUDY

 

K9 assistance

© Paul Wilkinson 2022

Rudy, a five-year-old black Cockapoo, is a hearing (assistance) dog to 12-year-old Alexis, who lives with her mum and dad in Bushey, Hertfordshire. He is the first ever Hearing Dog Pin-up on Audiology Worldnews, and was trained and matched to a deaf partner by the UK charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

About Rudy

© Paul Wilkinson 2022

Rudy was born into a litter of six on September 9, 2018 weighing just 270g. He has one sister and four brothers. He successfully passed his Puppy 4-star training in March 2021 and went to live with his deaf partner in August 2021.

Rudy’s volunteer puppy trainer says he loves people, particularly children, and always seeks them out. He is calm and gentle with them. He loves nothing better than to play and fetch his tennis ball. He picked up his sound work really quickly and was even giving confident little nose nudges before he started his soundwork training.

© Paul Wilkinson 2022

Sam, Rudy’s deaf partner Alexis’s mother says “He is very affectionate and loves kisses and cuddles from us. He is also very loyal; when Alexis is feeling anxious or nervous, he lays with her and doesn’t leave her side.”

© Paul Wilkinson 2022      The sleep problems that plagued Alexis are also a thing of the past. Alexis says: “Rudy sleeps close to me in my room and makes me feel safe. When I take my hearing aids off, I know he’s listening and I don’t worry because I know he’ll wake me up if there’s any danger.”

About Alexis

Alexis was born with microtia, which causes hearing loss due to the ear being underdeveloped. She wore a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) on a soft band from the age of three months and was fitted with her BAHA implants at the age of five. While they helped her, she still found some things challenging.

Alexis’s mother, Sam, said: “Early school life was a real challenge for Alexis. She was very shy and struggled with her confidence, despite having additional support from a teacher of the deaf and a speech and language therapist since nursery.

School was made even harder because of her lack of sleep. Alexis had to take her BAHAs off before going to bed, so at nighttime her world was completely dark and silent, and this scared her. She slept with the light on which made her really tired.

The changes in Alexis when she was partnered with Rudy were almost instant. When she first got him, we heard a sound we’d never really heard before – laughter.

© Paul Wilkinson 2022      Rudy, at seven-weeks-old.

They bonded straight away. We could hear her in her bedroom giggling. Now she doesn’t stop laughing. It’s so lovely to hear.”

Since Rudy was partnered with Alexis, she has also been excelling at school.

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Source: Audiology News UK issue 04 September-October 2023

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People