I have MS caused deafness and feel very lucky that is the only residual problem I seem to have. The hearing loss was a long gradual affair and I picked up lip reading along the way. A friend of ours has a daughter who is a service dog trainer and works mainly with physically handicapped people. She was going to be here in town for about 6 months and we talked about her training Gromit. She tested him and felt he would do well at it. She had to do some research as she hadn't worked much with hearing dogs. She has a Golden so she did some 'practice' training with her. They both have come to stay at the house when we were on trips to do more intensive training.
Gromit wearing his service dog vest.
It says "Hearing dog" and the next line says "In Training".
Gromit with our Akita, the Empress Tako
Gromit has been in training for about 4 months now and he is super. Monika, the trainer, has commented frequently how smart he is and eager to please. I think that the super treats (bribes?) he gets play a big part. He is now almost always dependable on alerting to me to my phone, a timer and the door bell. He will also 'find Julie'. I can't imagine what I did without his help. It is really nice to be able to answer my TDD phone and talk to someone rather than getting messages and having to call back. My husband can send Gromit up to find me when he comes home rather than his scaring the life out of me by coming up behind me when I don't know that he is there.
Gromit's main problem is that he is very distractible and that is improving as his training progresses. His Akita buddy, Tako, will start a game when Gromit is responding to something although Tako is realizing that there are usually treats for two. Gromit can also be distracted by a favorite toy. Early in his training, we had to hide his frog to keep his mind on business. Nutty dog! He is becoming more and more reliable and is already a big help. It seems to be a big game and that is the way I want to keep it.
All this and a wonderful personality to go with it. Gromit is such a fun dog and always seems to come up with something to make us laugh. He is my first Kerry and I really don't know why I waited this long to get one. My thanks to Carolee Nichols for breeding this wonderful dog and picking him out to come live with me.