Megan Johnson and Hearing Assistance Dog Duke
By Sarah Schaff
Living alone is a challenge on its own; you aren’t able to rely on someone having your back and a simple accident can quickly become an emergency. Having your own place while being deaf can make everyday activities difficult. This was one of Megan Johnson’s biggest concerns.
Megan was born deaf and has had cochlear implants for 17 years. She still primarily signs and has extremely limited hearing, even with the implants. She uses a video phone, vibrating alarm clock, and flashing doorbell to function in a world she can’t hear. Even with these tools there is always the chance that she may miss a signal overnight.
The daily uncertainty of what sounds may be around her drastically changed when Megan was teamed with Duke, a Hearing Assistance Dog. Duke is an exceptional yellow Labrador Retriever, as he not only understands verbal cues (like most dog-owners use), but also specifically responds to hand signs! Megan can use some tone and words, but like Duke, the spoken English language is not her preferred form of communication.
Megan learned about Can Do Canines from a friend who had an assistance dog and felt that a dog was the right tool for her as well. When Megan met Duke, she was thrilled to immediately feel a bond with him. It was obvious that he had found his purpose as well.
Duke helps Megan by alerting her to the oven timer, a door knock or doorbell, smoke alarm, and other noises she cannot hear. He also leads her to the source of the sound so she knows what he’s alerting her to, giving her a new level of security. Duke even goes a step further by alerting Megan to fallen items because she can’t hear them hit the floor. She feels safer because Duke adjusts his body language when people come up behind them or when traffic is about to pass, letting her know to be aware. Her family is really happy for her and agrees that she is safer having a furry medical asset.
Megan would like to thank Can Do Canines for their work in assisting people with various disabilities and is grateful to everyone who has made Duke a possibility for her. Because of your support, Megan has a new sense of security.
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser: Mary Beth and Brad Schleif
Dog Donor: Martha Anderson