Ravi and Laurel – A perfect match

August 7, 2012 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Laurel and Ravi

I attended a neighborhood block party the other night and had the privilege of meeting Laurel and her Shih Tzu Ravi.  Laurel is hard of hearing and Ravi is her Hearing Assistance Dog.  I was intrigued and asked if I could learn more about how Ravi came to her.

When Laurels first Hearing Dog passed, she contacted Dogs For The Deaf, Inc. to see if they could match her with another dog.  Dogs For The Deaf is an organization that trains dogs to assist people who are hard of hearing as well as other disabilities.  They rescue dogs from animal shelters throughout the western United States, take them to their training facility in southern Oregon for an extensive 5 to 7 month positive training period before placing them, free of charge, in their new home as a certified Hearing Assistance Dog.  If a dog doesn’t complete it’s training to become a Hearing Assistance Dog it never goes back to the shelter.  The people at DFD find it a “forever” home through adoption.

Ravi when he was first rescued

Ravi was a wild, skinny, stray dog wandering the streets in a small town in California last November.  When the animal shelter picked him up they contacted Dogs For The Deaf.  A representative came and rescued him.  They fed him, bathed him, neutered him and loved him.  He then started his training.  Seven months later he passed his test to become a Hearing Assistance Dog and was placed with Laurel.

The placement process is amazing.  After interviewing Laurel to ensure she would provide Ravi with a loving, caring home, DFD came to her house to inspect it to ensure it met certain requirements such as having a fenced in yard and that there were no other dogs in the house.  When the time came to transfer Ravi from DFD to Laurel, the trainer came for five days during the transition to help make the change as comfortable as possible for Laurel as well as Ravi.

During this time she worked one on one with Laurel to teach her how to keep the dog working and how to maintain the dog’s obedience skills.  Laurel also had to agree, in writing, that she would continue his training, grooming, medical care, etc.  She must send in a progress report every 2 weeks and there is a follow-up visit every year to make sure they’re doing OK.  DFD guarantees follow-up support for as long as the person and the dog are together.

Laurel and Ravi at work

Today, after only a short month together, Ravi and Laurel have become an amazing team.  As I was listening to their story, I watched Ravi alert Laurel to the phone ringing and when someone was knocking at the door by first checking out the sound, lightly jumping on her with his paws, and then leading her to the phone and door.  Ravi also alerts Laurel when the smoke alarm, alarm clock and oven timer goes off.  He is so attentive to her and stays close by her side.  Laurel takes Ravi to work every day where he lays under her desk as she works.  She says she feels so much more comfortable knowing if there is any loud noise or commotion he will alert her.

Ravi in his official uniform

They have already traveled to Michigan together and Ravi handled it like a pro.  Everywhere they go, Ravi proudly wears his orange vest and leash and Laurel carries a special ID card that identifies Ravi as a Hearing Dog.  She also carries a Guide to Assistance Guide Dogs handbook to help her with the laws in each state as well as to protect her rights if she encounters access problems.

A special thank you to Laurel and Ravi for sharing their story!  If you would like to learn more about Dogs For The Deaf, Inc. click on http://www.dogsforthedeaf.org.

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Entry filed under: Causes, Dogs. Tags: , , , .

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