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September 22, 2005

Decibles Woof-a-thon is Oct. 15

From: Concord Journal, MA - Sep 22, 2005

Woof-a-thon, a fund-raising dog walk for Decibels Charity ( will be held on Oct. 15, 9 a.m. to -noon at Great Brook Farm State Park, 984 Lowell Road, Carlisle. Cost is $25 per family. Registration fee waived for those who raise more than $100 in sponsors

To sign up visit, or contact Julia Dunning at

"Dog's don't speak. They will never speak. The same was true of our daughter, Bella," said Mark Dunning, president of Decibels charity and father of now-7-year-old Bella. "At birth, Bella was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. The doctors said she would never speak unless she had a surgically implanted cochlear implant."

Maybe that's why Bella and her dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever named Oats, got on so well. As Bella learned to walk, she sometimes used Oats' ear to help her stand. Oats would whimper, but she would hold her ground. Bella never even teetered.

So it was no surprise, really, on the night Bella had the surgery, her thoughts were with Oats. That night, after seven hours of surgery, in the midst of nausea and pain, Bella couldn't find her friend. Her mother and father were there along with people she didn't know: doctors and nurses and aids. The wires were there, too, clipped to her toes, pinching her fingers. Tubes dug into her arms; arms were taped to boards. And there was this tight wrap around her head where the doctors had shaved off her hair, cut open her scalp, drilled into her skull, and embedded a cochlear implant so that she might one day speak.

All that, but no yellow lab.

As Bella blinked awake in the middle of that night, her parents and doctors huddled in close to find out how she felt. Bella signed something they did not expect. She did not ask her Mommy for a hug or her Daddy to hold her. She didn't even cry. She just needed help getting to her feet. She looked at the crowd at her bedside and simply signed: "Where's Oats?"

Now 7, active and talkative Bella will take on the role of official "petter" for all dogs at Decibels Charity's first annual Woof-a-thon on Oct. 15. The event will include a choice of easy walk routes, entertainment, prizes and food. Bring the kids; bring the dogs; just don't bring the cat!

To date, the Decibels Foundation has donated nearly $100,000 to programs for children with hearing loss. All contributions made to the registered 501(c) (3) non-profit organization are tax-deductible.

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