Living with a Hearing Ear dog and the different reactions of the "uneducated" public.
|Hi, I had a Hearing Ear dog for 11 years. I have many stories about how the general public react to the dog, but first the background.
I've been Deaf since birth and after graduating University I decided to get a service dog while living on my own. Most Hearing Ear dogs are small like poodles or shelties, this is so that when they jump on your legs to alert you to a sound, there's minimal damage (snickering). But I told the school I can't see well so I need a bigger one. They said OK and gave me a 60 lb. dog. Half Border Collie; half Golden Retriever; all brains and always on hyperdrive. When the phone rings, or the doorbell chimes, he gets all excited and pounces on me full force. I felt like I needed full hockey gear for protection.
My first experience was at the training school. The trainer said we're going downtown Toronto to train at the Eaton Center to get used to being in public. The trainer told us to go into Radio Shack to buy timers to use with the dog at home. I went in and bought it and on the way out, going down a small aisle wide enough for one person; there was a woman coming down. She didn't see me or the dog. I waved to get her attention, she looked down, saw the dog and screamed! I grabbed the dog, pulled him back and walked down another aisle. The woman was still standing there, frozen. That was my first warning of things to come.
Two years later I married a hearing man. When we would go out together he'd hear different comments from other people about the dog. I just had to look at his expression to know if it was a stupid comment or a smart comment. The two smart comments were: "Oh look the dog helps the lady hear" or "Oh just like a guide dog for the blind it's a guide dog for the Deaf". The two stupid comments he'd hear are "Ohhh that means the dog is Deaf" or "Why are they bringing the Deaf dog here for?". My husband would eyeroll at that.
When we would go grocery shopping, my husband would go one way to get items on the list and I'd go the other way and get things and then we'd meet up. I was looking at the shelves of cans, my husband came by and saw me and saw a woman talking to me behind my back. He went up to the lady and said "That woman is Deaf, didn't you see the guide dog in uniform?" "Oh I thought it was a pet".
Another time I was standing waiting for a bus, a woman came up and started talking to my dog, look up at me and smile, and then continue talking to my dog. She kept looking back and forth between me and the dog then talking more to the dog. I watched this and then asked her "Do you think the dog is my interpreter?" The woman looked all embarrassed, "Oh you can talk?"
How ignorant can people get?? A dog interpreting??
The most common "ignorant answer" I've gotten over the years is when I'm explaining what a Hearing Ear dog does.
"I can't hear so when the phone rings, or there's a knock at the door, the dog -"
"Ohh then the dog barks and lets you know!" they interrupt excitably.
This threw me for a loop the first time I heard this and took a few seconds to gather my thoughts, but by the 15th time I snapped back "Look! If I could HEAR the dog Barking don'tcha think I'd HEAR the original sounds in the first place??"
My favorite story was when I was 9 months pregnant, I told my husband I wanted to get a lottery ticket so I waddled into a convience store. Most Asians, I don't know why, don't like my dog, keep telling us to get out "No dogs allowed". So I go in, and the Asian man yelled "Out! Out! No dogs allowed!" I said "The law permits him in, I have I.D." He said "Doesn't matter, OUT!" I said "I want a ticket". He said "No service! OUT!" My husband saw the commotion and came in. He's a big guy wearing shorts, a Harley Davidson T-shirt, bandana and mirrored sunglasses. He looked at the man and said "The lady wants a ticket" The man said "Ok ok" punched up the ticket and gave it to me.
My most embarrassing moment with the dog was when he was about 10 years old and my kids were 4 and 2. We decided to go to the Mall and wander around. My daughter was in the stroller and my son was running around. We were walking along when the leash tugged me back, the dog wasn't following. I looked back to see him squatting. I screamed "Not in the Mall!" Panicked thoughts rushed through my mind: "What am I to do??? I'm all out of bags!" I'm searching thru the stroller for something to use. I didn't want people to walk along and step in it and I'd have to pay them for new shoes.
I told my son to go into the store and ask the lady for a bag. He runs off into the store, I'm all worried watching for him in case someone snatches him or he gets distracted and runs off somewhere else. My daughter's throwing a fit and rocking the stroller back and forth. There's people bustling about and I'm watching they don't step in the mess. I look up to see a group of teenage girls heading my way. I try waving at them but they're too busy chatting and looking all over. I screamed "HEY!" They jumped and I pointed down at the mess and they freak and back away. My son runs back out "Mommy! I got a bag!" and its HUGE!! "ohhh good boy thank you" Open this huge bag, reach in and scoop up the mess and clean up.
We go about the rest of the day and I'm glad it's over, but noooooo. Later that week we go to Church. We were a little late, I dropped my daughter off in daycare then walk to the other end of the church and dropped my son off at Sunday school. On the way to the worship the leash yanked again. "AHHH not in CHURCH!!" I don't have any bags Shoot!! A woman walking down the hall ducked into one door of the kitchen, came out with a bag and smiled "good morning" "Oh thank you thank you". I cleaned it up and put it in the trash then went into the service. My husband nudged me and signs "why late?" I sign back "the dog pooped in the hall" He's snickering and then nudges me again "did you clean it up?" "Yes, there's only 1 dog in the church they'll know its ME"
We later went to the Vet and determined that he's getting old and nervous in public or busy places so I had to retire him early. When he was 12 he started losing his hearing and the family joke was we need a Hearing Ear Cat for the Hearing Ear Dog.