When Zari’s puppy raiser, Laura, began volunteering for Canine Companions® 17 years ago, she never thought a member of her own family would be matched with one of our expertly-trained assistance dogs.
Three short weeks ago, that’s exactly what happened.
Laura’s mother, Sandy, had been invited to our Northwest Training Center to participate in our Hearing Dog Team Training. During the first few days, Sandy worked with and handled different dogs. This is part of the Team Training process to determine which dog/human teams work best together. Coincidentally, Sandy was matched with Hearing Dog Laura, who happened to be named after her daughter Laura. Laura shared, “The timing is just amazing! I can’t believe my mom was matched with the dog that was named after me!” She went on to say, “It’s incredible to know the organization that I have volunteered with for nearly two decades is now helping to enhance my mom’s independence. It feels like everything has come full-circle.”
When it was time for Sandy and Hearing Dog Laura to graduate, Laura and Canine Companions puppy Zari attended the graduation ceremony. Zari enjoyed interacting with a lot of Canine Companions puppies, assistance dogs and supporters. It was a great opportunity to practice appropriate greetings, staying in a “down” for an extended period of time among many other familiar commands.
Zari took note as she learned what a Canine Companions hearing dog is trained to do. They alert their handlers, who are deaf or hard of hearing, to sounds in their environment that they would otherwise miss. These sounds include doorbells, alarm clocks, smoke alarms and more. After being matched with their new person, hearing dogs can be trained to recognize and respond to sounds specific to the individual’s environment and needs, including the sound of dropped keys and even the sound of their handler’s name being called! To learn more about hearing dogs, visit cci.org/hearingdogs.
Zari has a lot to learn before she can be matched with a person like Sandy, but she is well on her way to doing great things.