In 1978, I was a junior in high school looking forward to college. My parents wondered who would do the hearing for me while I was away at college. When my mother was watching T.V. one day, she came across what was then called the Hearing Ear Dog Program located in Massachusetts. My parents inquired with the program whether I would qualify because I was not deaf just HOH.
The gentleman who started this program, now called NEADS, was Donald MacMunn. Mr. MacMunn had trained his own dog to be a hearing dog & then wondered if others could benefit. He said that his hearing dogs were for both the deaf & HOH. So in Sept 1978, I was matched with my very first Hearing Ear dog named Rufus. Rufus was a shepherd collie mix and she was just wonderful. I took her to St. Leo College, Stetson University College of Law & the University of South Florida. She lived in the dorms with me and was the best educated dog in the South 🙂 After I received my master’s degree in 1985, Rufus came home with me. She passed away on March 22, 1989.
In August 1989 I got my second NEADS dog, Gus. My second dog was a combined hearing & service dog named Gus. He was NEADS’ first specialty dog & the 1st combined hearing & service dog on the East Coast of the U.S. He was a corgi mix and just the best dog I have ever had. We used to give presentations on hearing & service dogs in our area of Florida. He was a big attraction in the local public schools. He passed away in August 2001, one month after I lost my wonderful mother. I guess he went to keep her company I was lucky because when Gus died I already had Henning, my third NEADS hearing dog.
Henning was a border collie mix and he just loved to work. He went to work with me everyday @ the library. Everyone loved him. He passed away in July 2012.Hearing dogs are trained for the sounds needed by their Deaf or HOH human partners. Some examples of sounds are fire alarms, telephones ringing, door bells etc. Service Dogs are trained to assist by turning lights on & off, push elevator buttons & retrieve items for their human partners. Service dogs can be trained for persons who use wheelchairs, walkers & canes.
For more information on these wonderful dogs, please visit the NEADS website on our hearing loss resources page,