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My Ears Have a Cold Nose by Mary Ann De Meo

 Dora is Mary Ann’s latest
NEADS Hearing Dog


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,

0 thoughts on “My Ears Have a Cold Nose by Mary Ann De Meo”

  1. How Hard of Hearing are/were you? It is my understanding that the hearing loss must be profound? I looked into NEADS but was overwhelmed at the thought of having to raise $20,000 for a dog. How did you do that?

  2. It’s wonderful to hear about the importance of service dogs and how they improve lives. There are so many types of service dogs – Seeing eye, Hearing, and Medical Companion dogs who alert at fluctuations of blood sugar and other physical signals. I’m so happy for you!

  3. Mary Ann, I knew your sweet Gus when I was a 12 year old girl volunteering at NEADS. I still think of him all the time. He was such a smart guy, and so stunning. Although I knew and loved dozens of dogs while volunteering and working there over 6 years, Gus was my favorite. How lucky you both were to have each other.

  4. Hi Mary,
    Yes, we were so lucky to have each other & I still miss him. I have my 4th Neads Dog named Dora & she is alot like GUs. She is a black lab. Henning my 3rd dog passed away in July 2012. And when I applied for a new NEADS dog, I told them I wanted another Gus. It took 2 years but I got Dora just in time in March 2013. My Daddy passed away from a cancerous brain tumor on Sept. 30, 2013. And the last thing he did for me was give me the $ for Dora as he didn’t want me to be all alone.

    All the best to you.

    Mary Ann & Hearing Dog, Dora.

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