The Times West Virginian

In Today's TWV

February 10, 2008

‘These dogs have saved people’s lives’

Grafton woman gets needed assistance from Dogs for the Deaf

GRAFTON — With each successive day Diana Gerard’s hearing has deteriorated more and more.

The Grafton resident first started noticing her hearing loss in high school. In college she struggled to understand her professor’s lectures.

“I’ve been steadily going deaf,” Gerard said. “And the doctors don’t really know why.”

Nowadays, Gerard has trouble hearing sounds such as a knock at her door or the telephone ringing. Gerard added that occasionally friends would come to visit her, but she didn’t know they were at her door because she couldn’t hear them.

“People would say that they came over but they couldn’t get me to come to the door,” she said.

But those days are at an end because of the new addition to Gerard’s household. Now Jim alerts Gerard to any knocks at her door as well as when her phone rings. Jim is a hearing dog supplied to Gerard by Dogs for the Deaf, a non-profit group out of Central Point, Oregon.

“Now I can breathe a sigh of relief,” she said.

Jim, a small, mixed-breed dog, is a home-hearing dog, Gerard said. Dogs for the Deaf also provides public-assistance dogs to people with hearing disabilities as well.

A public-assistance dog is allowed to go into such locations as restaurants and other locations where dogs are not normally permitted.

“But Jim can go anywhere a dog can go or where I get permission to take him,” Gerard said.

Jim was rescued from an animal shelter in Texas. He then was shipped to Oregon where he received his initial training before making his way to the Mountain State.

However, he did not arrive in West Virginia by himself. He was accompanied by a trainer from Dogs For the Deaf who helped Gerard and Jim get to know one another.

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