A former rescue dog that now works as a hearing dog for her severely deaf owner in Grimsby in Humberside has been named Hearing Dog of the Month by the charity that trained her in recognition of her caring nature and her ability to overcome her unfortunate beginnings.
When Daphne Tuff (78) saw pretty Poppy in a rescue centre she fell in love with the three-year-old Cairn terrier and could not resist taking her. For a year Poppy lived as a much-loved pet but in 2006 fate took a hand in her future. Daphne’s daughter, Sue, came across a Hearing Dogs for Deaf People stand at a country show, and the seed was sown as to whether Poppy would be able to be trained to help alert Daphne to sounds.
Hearing Dogs generally select all the dogs they train themselves, but occasionally they will assess a person’s own dog to see if they have the temperament and ability to learn new skills. Poppy was assessed, and in 2007 she became a fully qualified hearing dog after undergoing four months’ soundwork training where she learned to alert to various household sounds. Since then she has made a huge difference to Daphne’s life and also that of her husband, Dennis, who is also hard of hearing. “Poppy alerts me to sounds including the doorbell, the telephone and the smoke alarm,” says Daphne. “She will also fetch me if Dennis wants me or vice versa. Poppy has also taught herself to alert me to the post when it arrives; she comes and finds me, touches me with her paws then leads me to the post.”
Poppy is a real character, with a fun-loving side as Daphne explains: “Poppy loves to play hide and seek games. We hide treats in various rooms and we send her to go and sniff them out. Sometimes when she is given a treat she will take it into the garden and bury it for later … even if it is only an hour later!”
Being such a small assistance dog means that Poppy attracts a lot of interest when she is out and about, and she is certainly a star in their local area of Grimsby. “Everyone knows her and she is welcomed everywhere,” says Daphne proudly. “As Dennis and I have to take her out for walks, she is keeping us active, which is beneficial to us particularly as we both have bad health.”
CARING POPPY GAINS NATIONAL RECOGNITION Pg 2
As well as her amusing side, Poppy has a serious, caring side to her too. Her loving nature really came to the fore recently when Daphne was very poorly. She had just come out of hospital after a short stay there, and from the minute she got home Poppy would not leave her side as if she knew she was not well. “Poppy came in and out of the bedroom to check on me,” says Daphne. “She was very doting, and seemed very keen to do the call – fetching my husband for me – when I was ill. She understands me so well and is very considerate of my feelings, always knowing what is going on.
“Poppy is a quiet girl, affectionate and adaptable to whatever we are doing. She is no trouble, and such a joy to have around. She is an absolute star.”
So when Daphne visited the rescue centre that fateful day and fell in love with Poppy, not only did she end up with a lovely pet dog – she began a chain of events that led to a life-changing partnership for both of them.
Learn more about Hearing Dogs @ www.hearingdogs.org.uk