Dale Saari & Hearing Assistance Dog Ella
One night, while Dale Saari and his wife Jeannine were sleeping, the smoke alarm went off. Jumping out of bed to investigate she found no emergency; instead Jeannine grabbed the ladder to climb up and change the batteries. Meanwhile, Dale continued to sleep, peacefully unaware of the high-pitched noises echoing throughout their home.
Dale, a retired military service member, has had progressive hearing problems since he was 45 years old due to both his career involving trucking and heavy equipment and his service in the army; he wears cochlear implants in both ears during the day but takes them out before he goes to bed. The Saaris reside in Aurora, Minn. and found out about Can Do Canines while attending a meeting in the Twin Cities for people with Cochlear implants. “We attended the hearing association meeting specifically because there was a gal who was coming to speak with her Hearing Assist Dog; we wanted to learn more about the organization,” says Dale. They applied shortly thereafter.
“Once I take these cochlear implants out at night I’m totally deaf.”
Ella, a three-year-old black and tan Welsh Terrier was already a part of the Saari’s loving home. Ella is an “owner-provided” Hearing Assist Dog. Before beginning their training with Can Do Canines, Dale and Ella attended puppy classes, went on numerous outings for socialization, and worked with a local trainer to improve their focus.
Throughout all of their training, Jeannine has been an active supportive helper to Dale, Ella, and the trainers. Jeannine’s advice to others who are considering traveling the “owner-provided” training route is to definitely take your dog to puppy classes immediately. “You need to start early so they don’t develop bad habits,” she explains.
“Ella makes life happy for us!”
Ella already had her foundation training and obedience training, so work at Can Do Canines focused on providing the “hearing” training for Ella and Dale. The hearing assist work Ella learned with the help of Can Do Canines gives Dale independence and Jeannine peace of mine. The team’s hearing assist training involved alerting to smoke alarms, door knocks, phone notifications, alarm clocks, and oven timers.
“The most fun part about training with Ella is knowing that she will come through for us when we need her.”
For the supporters and volunteers, Jeannine expresses her thanks. “Thank you. It is a great service that you provide for people with disabilities. It was a lot of work on both Can Do Canines end and our end as well.” Dale chimes in, “Everything happened the way it was supposed to. We are now comfortable Ella is not just a good companion, she is a good hearing partner for me, too.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Special Thanks – Nicole Wiebusch; Golden Paws Dog Training, Aurora, MN
Dog Source – Owner provided