Judy Lundy & Hearing Assist Dog Pepper
For 36 years Judy Lundy tried to cope with her hearing loss by using increasingly high-tech hearing aids. When she needed additional assistance her husband Steve kept her in the loop during conversations with others or let her know about the sounds that she missed.
“My husband was always my translator and my second set of ears,” Judy says. “When he died eight years ago I lost my hearing for the second time.”
Judy did her best to cope after Steve’s death. Living alone she continued to pursue her career as a senior business analyst at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Then Judy realized she was missing sounds more and more frequently; friends and family worried Judy would not hear the doorbell or phone or even an intruder.
One day on the way to work Judy noticed downed branches and trees. There had been a severe storm, but Judy had not heard either the extreme weather or the sirens. The incident caused her to search online for information about assistance dogs; that search led to Can Do Canines.
Judy was matched with a Hearing Assist Dog Pepper, a cattle dog mix who had been donated to the program by the Animal Humane Society. Pepper showed that special confidence and alertness that Can Do Canines trainers look for when screening shelter dogs.
“Nothing bothered her and she was very easy to motivate with a variety of options,” Trainer Laura Waudby says. “Pepper was a social butterfly!”
After weeks of training Pepper became Judy’s new second set of ears. Pepper nudges Judy and alerts her to the phone, doorbell, smoke detector, timers and possible intruders; then Pepper leads her to the source of each sound. Judy feels more confident in her daily life with Pepper along and reconnected to a world which—for many years—she was unable to fully hear. This has reopened a new, wide world for her.
“Pepper has changed my life, not just as an assistance dog, but with the companionship,” Judy says. “She is so adaptable and loves to work.”
Although Judy primarily needs help at home, Pepper accompanies her to work. She acts as Judy’s official greeter when someone comes into her office; and her red-vested assistance dog handles the elevators and busy meetings with ease. “She’s my little professional,” Judy says. “Sometimes I call her Dr. Pepper.”
Soon after being partnered with Pepper Judy experienced additional hearing loss in her right ear, resulting in even more sounds becoming undiscernible. Throughout this transition, Pepper’s presence has been both helpful and comforting as Judy copes with new challenges. Judy is grateful for the peace of mind Pepper will provide as she moves forward and the increased independence an assistance dog has granted so far.
“There are a million ways to say thank you, but how do I choose the right one?” Judy says. “Every day I want to make sure we go out and exemplify the work that Can Do Canines does. I can’t say thank you enough.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser—Kristina Kiefer
Special Thanks—The Inmate Handlers at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault
Dog Source—Animal Humane Society