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January 3, 2005

Dogs For The Deaf Helps Hearing Impaired To A Better Life

From:, OR - Feb 1, 2005

By Dorene Stamper/Staff

Central Point, OR. Nestled among the Table Rock mountains in Jackson County is Dogs for the Deaf, a group which has been rescuing dogs since 1977 and is dedicated in helping the hearing impaired to a better life.

Hearing dogs are chosen from animal shelters throughout the west coast and as far away as Hawaii, where they might otherwise be euthanized.

"We are the oldest and largest hearing dog center in the world," said Robin Dickson, President/CEO of the program. "We place dogs all over America and Canada."

The dogs are usually mixed breeds, small to medium in size, and up to 36 months of age. The trainers look for dogs that are friendly, energetic, healthy and intelligent. Those passing the aptitude tests are brought to the facility for a medical evaluation and vaccinations. All dogs are spayed/neutered before training.

"After five to six months of training we place our dogs," Dickson said. "Our dogs have saved lives and helped owners to be more employable. The advantages of having one of these dogs is just incredible."

How do people qualify for one of their dogs?

If a person feels one of these dogs could help them to a better quality of life there are a few steps they can take.
• Write, e-mail or call them and express their needs. An application will then be sent out.
• Fill out the application and send it back with a copy of an audiogram.
• A volunteer will arrive and evaluate the need and how the dog will be received by the new owner and the family. A video will be taken of the interview and sent to the head office at Dogs for the Deaf.
• The information will be evaluated to see if they qualify for a dog. If they do a dog will be supplied to them free of charge.

"We place between 30 and 40 dogs per year," said Dickson.

There are also qualifications for the dogs too before they can be accepted into the program.

"If a dog is too timid in town, shows no interest in responding to sounds or is aggressive we can't use them," said Dickson.

They train three types of dogs:

Hearing dogs: They are extensively trained to respond to household sounds and alert the person to smoke alarms, telephones, alarm clocks, door knocks/bells, baby cries, oven buzzers, someone calling the person's name and various other environmental sounds that are necessary to everyday safety and independence. They are also thoroughly obedience trained.

When a dog's training is almost completed, the trainer analyzes the applicants on the waiting list and finds the applicant whose needs will be best met by the talents, strengths and personality of that particular dog. Some people take their Hearing Dogs everywhere with them including their place of work, on public transportation, and into a variety of public places like restaurants and grocery stores. Others are more comfortable using their dogs strictly at home.

The ages, needs and lifestyles of applicants very greatly, so this matching is extremely important to ensuring a long-term relationship between the dog and person.

Special Needs Dogs: These dogs receive various amounts of training and help with many of life's special challenges. A loving personality and an intense desire to please are necessary for a Special Needs Dog. These dogs provide unconditional love and companionship for individuals dealing with such things as trauma, stokes, chronic illness, depression and phobias.

Career Change Dogs: These dogs also receive various amounts of training. They meet the needs of those who could benefit from the emotional support and unconditional love of a canine friend.

There are many stories and letters received from new owners of dogs trained at Dogs for the Deaf. Here is but one that was featured in the Spring 2004 newsletter called Canine Listener.

Dear DFD,

Bear continues to alert me to sounds such as the oven timer and the alarm clock. Bear is such a joy to me. In my prayers I often thank God and DFD for sending me such a lovable creature who provides me with so much companionship and sense of security. As I type this note, Bear is lying beside my computer chair, but ready to respond when needed.

You are certainly helping countless people!

Nancy M. And Bear, North Carolina.

Contributions to this nonprofit provide:
• $30 Rescuing a dog from a shelter.
• $200 Evaluation and tests plus spaying/neutering.
• $300 Initial testing of the dog for alertness and aptitude for training.
• $1,200 Taking a dog through the entire quarantine/evaluation period in preparation for training.
• $2,000 Follow up visits for 5 teams.
• $3,000 You or your group being named as a sponsor of a Special Needs Dog at the time of placement.
• $5,000 You or your group being named as sponsor of a Hearing Dog at the time of the placement.

Dogs are placed free of charge with applicants nationwide and in Canada. The total cost of operating Dogs for the Deaf, Inc comes from contributions from individuals, service clubs, businesses, foundations, memorial fund designations and bequests.

Dogs for the Dear, Inc is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization approved by the Internal Revenue Service. Donations are tax deductible according to current laws. No Tax Dollars support this program.

They are Charter Member Assistance Dog International and Accredited by Assistance Dogs International.

Dogs for the Deaf is located at 10175 Wheeler Road, Central Point, right off Table Rock Road. For more information or free tours contact them a call at (541) 826-9220 Voice/TDD., e-mail and website is at

Dorene Stamper/Staff Reporter

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