Monday, October 10, 2011

Service dogs for HOH or deaf people

Service dogs for HOH or deaf people do an amazing job by helping them to have a better way of life.

I wonder what happens when a deaf person (who has a hearing service dog) decides to have a CI. So a few weeks ago I wrote an email to a service dog organization asking these questions:

1. - What happens when after providing a hearing service dog to a HOH or deaf person that person decides to have a Cochlear implant? Do you take away the dog from that person?
2. - Is a unilateral CI user a candidate for a service dog?

And they answered:
If a hearing dog recipient got a cochlear implant we would not take away their hearing dog. A CI may be switched off at times (e.g. when swimming or showering or sometimes at night to save batteries) rendering the recipient completed deaf. Also, it must be remembered that a CI is not a cure for deafness - a CI may be only moderately effective to a deaf person and so a hearing dog may still be very helpful in alerting and locating certain sounds to a CI user. However, if someone coped very well with a CI, Hearing Dogs and/or the recipient may decide that it would be unnecessary for the CI user to have a successor dog once the first one retires or passes away.

Current CI users may also apply for a hearing dog. Each case would be assessed on an individual basis. It should also be noted that a CI user must let the Hearing Dog work by alerting them to sounds, even if the CI user can hear those sounds (e.g. doorbell) most or some of the time.
I'm not looking to have a service dog as I already have a “gifted” service dog. He is a black Labrador, a natural-born service hearing dog. He had no training and yet, he knew something was wrong with me so he was and always is aware and alerts me of any sound. He is my support.

I’m so glad to have him in my life because sometimes when there is too much noise and I’m walking along with him, I get disoriented and he takes the lead and guide me. And I get disoriented because I only have one hearing device… Onyx is the CI in my other ear – he, he! - It’s like I’m hearing through him!!!