You're a good dog, Harley Brown! - A letter from Nancy O., Hearing Dog client
When the DFD trainer drove up the driveway with Harley, having flown with him from Oregon to Arizona, being delivered on a silver platter, so to speak, I only saw his face peeking up over the back of the front seat at first. There was no connection. I thought, "He looks like a hunting dog. What an irresistible face! I'm still not sure about having a Hearing Dog but I'm going with it because of a hearing spouse of a deaf man who told me that it made her life so much easier. Maybe my husband's life has been hard but he doesn't know it... we'll see..."
During the first fifteen minutes in our house, Harley showed me that he loved me a lot already and had waited a long time to meet me. He acted like he just knew we were going to have a great life together. I thought, "How do you know? You can't really know!" but I quickly became convinced. Harley demonstrated his array of soundwork, showing me how good he is at his job and how much he wanted to do it for me. For me! Little, old, unimportant me! How does that happen?
So, on the very first day of Harley's arrival, after a lifetime of feeling "a little out of the loop," although much-loved by my husband, children, and very close friends, and having had "regular" dogs whose lives had touched me a great deal but whose connection with me was nothing like this, I FELT CONNECTED. Really alive! Electricity flowing and sparking. Enging revving. Mind moving in fast-running pictures. Thoughts coming in as if through a newly broken dam and rushing away as fast as they came.
Six months after Harley came my husband casually mentioned one day, "Boy! My life sure is easier."
Harley helped me to accept the limitations of deafness and to change my life to accommodate it, rather than trying to do the impossible and feeling bad when I couldn't do it. A small example is now having dinner with one or two couples but not with three or more. Having six people around the table is the maximum for being able to keep up with conversation with my level of deafness. What a difference it makes when one sees small things like this and changes one's life to fit the need, instead of trying to be like hearing people and living in frustration as a result.
Thanks to Dogs for the Deaf, Harley has made not only my life better, but my family's and my student's lives, as well. He is an adorable ambassador/healer/philosopher/therapist who takes his job very seriously. Don't ever tell him that he's adorable, though. Just tell him "You're a good dog, Harley Brown."
What a wonderful world we live in.
Nancy and Harley
Editor's note: Nancy's beloved Harley passed away in August of 2012. To read Nancy's beautifully written memorial letter to Harley, please click HERE.
Nelson - Teacher's Aide
DFD's first Program Assistance Dog
|Nelson with Janet & students
Nelson is a two-year-old Black Labrador who came to us from Guide Dogs for the Blind. He had a sensitive trachea and could not become a Guide Dog. Upon arriving at DFD, he rapidly became one of the favorite dogs of everyone with his loving, happy-go-lucky attitude and his desire to please. Nelson entered our Program Assistance Dog training and was matched with Janet V., a teacher of students with special needs. Dogs going into this training must be totally "unflappable" and able to remain totally calm regardless of what is happening around them. That was Nelson! Obviously, Nelson also had to LOVE children, and he did. Janet has nine middle school age students, all of whom have special needs. Nelson accompanies her to school every day. Among other things, Nelson's trainer taught him to "go touch." When he is with the students and one of them is upset or distracted, Nelson goes to the child and touches him/her with his nose to comfort and help refocus the child, enabling the student to continue with the assignment. Janet incorporates Nelson into her lessons, and he helps motivate the students to read, do their assignments, and focus. Nelson is also used as a reward; when a student has done something well, that student is able to spend a few minutes petting and playing with Nelson. Each morning Nelson greets each student, and he is helping to motivate the students to communicate. Nelson will be benefitting students in Janet's classes for many years to come, helping these children to learn, grow, and develop in spite of their special needs.