Notes from Our May 2024 HOPE Meeting

If you missed our May 2024 HOPE hearing loss online support meeting, here are the notes. This meeting featured a guest speaker, Deb Morrison, who shared her experiences with her hearing dog.

Notes from HOPE meetings are always available on our blog shortly after the meeting. You can read more about our HOPE program here.

Guest Speaker: Deb Morrison and Her Service Dog, Mango

Deb started losing her hearing in college, and shortly after she had her first child, she was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease in both ears. She lost her hearing rapidly, the surgery to restore it failed, and her balance nerve was destroyed.

This loss was difficult, but also a blessing in disguise. Deb applied for a hearing dog through Canine Companions in 2017, and was matched with her dog, Mango in 2019. Mango helped Deb find her purpose: helping people with hearing loss as an advocate.

How Mango the Hearing Dog Helps Deb

At 5:00 am, Mango’s internal clock wakes up, so she wakes Deb up.

Deb trained Mango to alert on sounds Deb needs to hear, like alarms or water running. If a tornado siren goes off, Mango will alert and take Deb to the basement for safety. When Deb and Mango are driving, and Mango hears a siren, she’ll alert Deb with a nose bump. When Deb accidentally left the refrigerator door open and it beeped repeatedly, Mango heard the beep and took Deb to the refrigerator. At a doctor’s appointment, Mango will let Deb know when her name is called. If her husband needs Deb for something, Mango will take Deb to him.

Mango goes wherever Deb goes, including on planes, boats, cars, trains, and subways. Mango even kayaks and hikes with Deb! Together, they did a 5K race. Mango is kind of a local star: She’s been on the news. People love to take photos of her.

If Deb drops something, like her car keys or glasses, Mango will retrieve them for her. She can even help Deb find something as small as a hearing aid.

Deb believes that Mango keeps her safe and gave Deb back her independence. Before Mango, Deb didn’t like to drive or travel on her own, and she withdrew from everything when she lost her hearing. Mango is so friendly that she brings people into Deb’s circle once again.

Canine Companions Notes

Canine Companions has their own breeding program. They train only goldens, labs, or lab-golden mixes.

The cost to train a hearing dog is $50,000. Some organizations will charge for a hearing dog, or ask you to fundraise several thousand dollars toward the cost. But Canine Companions’ dogs are provided to recipients at no charge.

Hearing dogs like Mango are bred to be smaller, since they’re not doing active work like pulling wheelchairs or opening doors. Many hearing dogs do just fine without a yard or in an apartment. Deb noted that Canine Companions matches you carefully with a dog that fits your personality and lifestyle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *