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A 'woof' with a purpose | Featured bloggers

During the month of September, Healthy Hearing will be featuring different bloggers in the hearing loss community. From individuals with cochlear implants to parents of children with hearing loss, we'll take a closer look at some of the top blogs and resources available to you! On Tuesday, we highlighted bloggers with 'Tech sites provide information channel.' Additionally, each Friday we will have a featured author, an individual who has published a book about their experiences with hearing loss. Make sure to visit Healthy Hearing's Facebook and Twitter pages to enter to win a copy of each book!

When an individual suffers from a disability that impacts the day-to-day functions of their life, there are a variety of methods that can be utilized to help ease the completion of these tasks. From hearing aids and cochlear implants for people with hearing loss, to walkers and canes for individuals with balance issues, we have a large assortment of options at our disposal. 

Service animals help individuals with hearing loss. One of the more favorable options is a service dog. These animals undergo extensive training to help individuals with a plethora of disabilities to perform everyday tasks. While service dogs can be used for a variety of conditions, they are commonly used with the following four: 

Hearing dogs: Individuals with hearing loss or deafness often use hearing dogs to help alert them to sounds they might not be able to experience. These animals are trained to alert their owners to different noises, such as: their name, smoke alarms, doorbells, the telephone, timers and other sounds we come across in our day-to-day lives. These dogs also are trained to remove their owners from situations which might be dangerous, like when a fire alarm is sounding they know to collect their partner and take them outside. 

Mobility assistants: Individuals with mobility or balance issues often rely on service animals to help them keep their pace and to soften the fall if they stagger off balance. Individuals with conditions like Meniere's which affects balance and sometimes hearing can really benefit from using a service animal. These animals have to be able to withstand a certain weight and serve as a pillar for their owners. 

Seeing dogs: Guide dogs allow people with impaired vision or blindness to continue their daily tasks without having to rely on another person. These animals help guide their owners around obstacles and also are trained to keep them out of harms way. Guide dogs require individuals to undergo training as well, so they can instruct their service animals on the proper direction. The two work in tandum to help arrive at their desired destination.

Psychiatric service dogs: Many people don't realize animals can be used to aid in treatment of psychological issues. For individuals with extreme anxiety or panic disorders, depression, agoraphobia and post traumatic stress disorders, service animals can provide the constant companionship needed. Service animals often work with individuals suffering from these issues by making them get out of bed in the morning to take them out, helping the owner face their panic or fear of the outside world and by distracting the from anxious or nervous thoughts. 

The following bloggers both utilize service dogs for their hearing loss. These women detail not only what their lives are like with hearing loss, but how their service animals helped make their lives not only easier to live, but happier. 

Hearing Elmo is a blog which chronicle's Denise's lifelong hearing loss and her current battle with Meniere's disease. Elmo, the popular Sesame Street character, is a driving theme in the blogger's life because it was the first toy she heard while shopping with her parents after having her cochlear implant activated. Because of Denise's diagnosis of Meniere's, in addition to her hearing loss she also deals with balance issues. She uses a service dog to help her stay on top of her day to day chores, errands and tasks. Chloe, her service dog, helps her when she is off balance and can alert Denise to noises which might be difficult to distinguish. Denise's blog shows how much better her life is now that her assistance animal is a part of it.

Life with a Hearing Dog is written from the perspective of Cathy and at one point, her yellow lab and service dog, Bosley. Unfortunately, Bosley passed away from lymphoma in March and now the blogger has been training with a new assistance dog. Cathy has used her blog as a way to inform readers and the public to the benefits of having a service animal and the joy (and help!) it's brought to her life. Life with a Hearing Dog allows readers to better understand what service animals are able to provide to their owners and the process it takes to not only get an animal ready, but the owner as well. 

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