Tea Gardens Lions Club Hears Recipient of Hearing Dogs Program

Louie, the Australian Lion Hearing Dog.

LIONS Tea Gardens members learned the life-altering story of an Australian Lions Hearing Dog (ALHD) recipient at their fortnightly dinner on Wednesday, 25 October at Mumm’s On The Myall, Tea Gardens.

ALHD was an initiative of two Lions members in the 1980s, inspired by a similar program run in the United States.

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The recent Hearing Dog recipient, Adrienne Roberts, was accompanied by Charlestown Lions’ Bronwyn Percy, as well as Louie, the dog of the hour.

“Charlestown Lions have supported me magnificently, with no better support person than Bron,” Ms Roberts told the 30-plus attendees.

Diagnosed at age twelve with hearing impairment, Adrienne would be profoundly deaf by her 50s.

Despite assistant devices including one Cochlear implant, times when her devices are switched off, such as nights and mornings, are made more secure and safer by a well-trained canine companion.

Each Hearing Dog is chosen as a puppy, and costs around $40,000 to train properly, including eight months of socialisation with humans and other animals, then another eight-month period of specific training at the Adelaide Hills facility, the only one of its kind in Australia.

A recipient’s house must be rigorously inspected, before going on a lengthy waiting list.

For Adrienne, it took nearly two and a half years, delayed by COVID, before obedient and calm border-terrier Louie was finally able to be matched to her on 28 February, 2022 – and then the ALHD people had to train her, too.

“Deafness is a hidden thing, it doesn’t get as much attention as other situations,” Adrienne said.

“Louie is wonderful, and he sends a powerful message, allowing people and health professionals to be aware of hearing disabilities, and life for hearing-impaired people – I am really lucky to have him.”

Local Lions members enjoyed a scrumptious three-course meal from Mumm’s kitchen, and widely commented that the night was “informative and inspirational” and that it was “good to hear how Lions’ work is helping peoples’ lives”.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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