Sissi & Jos

Sissi, Judiths hearing & seeing eye dog

Sissi, Judiths hearing & seeing eye dog

Sissi

I was born in Roermond and have two sisters and 2 brothers. One of my sisters is a Guide Dog for a blind human, the others all look after human families, because we all know that humans without a dog to look after them are all sad and lonely.

When I was very young I went to school in Hilversum and learnt to become a Disability Assistance & Hearing Dog. When I graduated I was assigned to look after an elderly human lady in Maastricht who was deaf and disabled. Sadly after just six months with her she became to infirm to take out for walks and eventually went into a special human home. However I decided to look after a much younger deaf human lady called Judith, and this is who I have worked with for the last five years. It has been a good move and I get to live in a big house with a large garden, with plenty of good food and a daily fur brushing. Now my duties include listening out for some human puppies because my mistress Judith has a growing puppy litter but cannot hear when they get into trouble so I have to do that for her.

Two years ago my mistress was hurt while we were in town and now she has problems with her eyesight. To help her more I went back to school for more training and now I can also act as her eyes as well as her ears.

Jos

Hilke's disability assistance dog

Jos

Jos is a trained Disability Assistance dog who looks after the human puppy Hilke. She has a problem with her spine and she cannot walk very well but with Jos wearing his special harness she is able transfer enough weight to him to allow her to walk much further. He also does a lot of picking up, fetching and carrying for her. He is a very big and strong dog and many think he is her body guard. Though he looks very tough he is really a big softie inside and rather clumsy on the outside which sometimes annoys my mistress.

Some of us dogs can be training to perform several or even all of these roles for those people who are unfortunate enough to have disabilities that span several of the above categories. The Assistance Dog Education program at school focuses on the psychology of learning and upbringing versus genetics, developmental stages and the socio-biological concepts of partnership between dogs and individuals whose limited physical strength or sensory capabilities makes functioning on their own a difficult. The essence of this coursework is to ensure that we assistance dogs are an asset and an unobtrusive helpmate.

What Does A Hearing Dog Do ?

We Dogs can be trained to “hear” for deaf people. We dogs let our humans know when the telephone rings or if the smoke alarm or alarm clock goes off. We can alert the owner when there is an intruder in the house. We can even alert our human to a baby’s cry, something I do a lot. Listening out for the children has become one of my most important roles since my mistresses adopted two human puppies several years ago. Out in the street I alert Judith & the human puppy Nicholas, who is also deaf, to things approaching us from behind, or if I think they are in any immediate danger. I can also let them know if I think someone is try to address them and they are not noticing. As my mistress relies on her computer a lot I have learnt to listen out for when a message comes in on her pc then go and find her where ever she is in the house or garden so that she can answer it.

What Does A Disability Assistance Dog Do ?

For the Physically Disabled we offer mobility for people in wheelchairs because we can turn on and off lights for their owners who can’t use their arms, we can also push elevator buttons, something I like to do but it seems to annoy humans. We assist at ATMs, pull wheelchairs and retrieve items for their owner. Most service dogs are Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers like Jos and I. We assistance dogs are trained to act as stabilisers to disabled people when they are walking, something my human Judith makes use when her hips are giving her problems. The human puppy Hilke here has a spinal problem and my buddy Jos helps her to walk in a steady manner, and protects her from all sorts of trouble that human puppies are always getting into.

What Does a Seeing Eye Dog Do ?

A Seeing Eye Guide dog is trained to guide its owner in a straight line unless told otherwise, avoiding obstacles on the ground, to both sides and above.  We will stop at curbs, at cycle ways, tram tracks, at stairs, and locate doorways to regularly visited destinations.  We try to maintain a straight line when crossing a road and decide when it is safe to cross.  We cannot work miracles but we try to offer a potentially unique, safe and effective way of getting about independently.

A true partnership develops with we Guide Dogs becoming a real companion and friend.  In addition, many Guide Dog owners find we Guide Dog are an important social asset.  Members of the public are interested in Guide Dogs and often approach our humans to chat or offer assistance and this is very important in reducing the feeling of isolation which some visually impaired people experience.

The Right To Roam

In the European Union we assistance dogs have the right to go anywhere, no shop, no public transport, no official can deny us entry. Here in Holland it would be illegal to try and separate me from my mistress. Landlords allow tenants to have guide dogs in residences that normally have a No Pets policy and no extra fees may be charged for such tenants.

Jos and I have our own Passports that allow us, along with microchips we carry under our skin, to move across all European Union borders. I have travelled to many countries, including Germany, Belgium, France, Demark, Poland, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

I love the challenge of travelling and making sure my mistress and her puppies are kept safe. I especially like train and tram travel.

Author: Sissi.

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