Hi my name is Timmy and I am 12 years old. I am what is formally known as an Assistance Dog. I live with my mum who is known as a recipient in Wiltshire. This is my story.

I was born on 30th March 2011 with a number of brothers and sisters. My breeder contacted Hearing Dogs For Deaf People to offer one of us new born pups to the charity to become a life changing Assistance dog to someone that has Hearing problems. I was the chosen one and my journey started from there.

At 12 weeks old I went to live with a puppy socialiser who is a volunteer for Hearing Dogs for Deaf people. Her name was Anne and she lived in Devon. Anne’s role was to take me out and about in to the wider community and introduce me to different sights and sounds. She also took me to weekly classes for puppy training. After about a year I moved to Princes Risborough were I lived for a few weeks at the charity’s main head quarters but due to there not being enough trainers I moved to Bilby in Yorkshire. My training consisted of going for daily walks and learning how to respond to different sounds. In July 2012 I met Karen who was to become my recipient/mum. Karen came up to York for two days to met me and to see how we got on. As we bonded at first sight, it was agreed that Karen would come back a week later to be taught what she needed to do when I alerted her to different sounds.

My training consisted of learning what to do if I hear a number of different sounds. Things like the door bell, alarm clock or most important a fire alarm or smoke detector. I was taught to jump up to my recipient and on the command what is it, I will respond by either leading my recipient to the sound or in the case of a fire alarm I will lay down to indicate danger.

I have lived with my mum since August 2012 and I have the best life ever. My mum works for an insurance broker and we used to go into the office every weekday. Our day starts with me alerting my mum to the sound of the alarm clock, me telling her it is time to get up and get my breakfast, which she seems to forget to give me until much later. Mum gets up and gets ready. She then puts on my harness and we go outside and walk to the bus stop to get on the bus to where she works. At the bus stop mum will put my jacket on me as it tells people that I am a Hearing Dog for Deaf People. My jacket also has the Assistance dog UK logo to tell people that I am an officially registered Assistance dog. We will board the bus and take our seat. I sit on my mums lap as I am only small and sometimes people do not realise I am there and kick me by mistake. I get to look out the window and see the people and cars on our journey. When we reach the end of the journey we get off and walk to the big building where mum works. We go up in the lift to the floor where mum works and then I get my breakfast. I can be a bit cheeky and as I have so many friends in the office, I sometimes may ask for a treat. There is one special lady who keeps treats in a white box under the table. I know exactly where she sits and will pull mum to her table when we have to walk past. The special lady always gives me a treat which I then take back to the table my mum sits at and eat it under there. I am always listening out for noises so that I can alert my mum if I need to otherwise I will settle down and pretend I am asleep but I am not really.

At lunch time mum will take me outside for a walk. We sometimes visit places that have lots of love stuff that I want to eat, I think they are called shops. Mum will go in and pick things up and put them into a bag. We will then go back to the big building , where I will stop off on the way back to mum’s table at the special lady who will give me a treat to enjoy before I settle down again for my pretend afternoon sleep. A few hours later mum and I will leave the big building and go back to the bus stop to go home. I am always alert to my surroundings to make sure I tell my mum of anything that she needs to be aware of.

I forgot to tell you about mum and why I help out. Mum is profoundly deaf. That means she does not get to hear things in the same way others do. My job is to make sure she does not get to miss something important and more importantly if she found herself in danger I would be able to tell her so that she can take action.

I am really lucky to have my mum because we get to do lots of different things. On a few occasions we have been in a plane. Yes I was allowed on a plane and where the passengers sit not in the hold underneath. I enjoyed that so much. On one flight I had my bed on the floor and went to sleep. Mum had to wake me up when we had landed as I had made myself so comfortable I did not want to leave.

As I am now 12 my journey as a hearing dog is coming to an end. I will need to retire when I reach 13 years old so I only have another year of being able to accompany my mum to different places. I have had a great life and been to some really interesting places. Mum has a niece who is into horses so mum and I get to watch her compete in various horse showing events but also go to things like Royal Windsor Horse Show and the London International Horse Show at Excel. When I retire I will get to stay at home and just enjoy myself. I will get to chill out and have fun, much like I am having now but just not wearing my special jacket.

There are many different types of Assistance dogs. Most people will have heard of guide dogs for the blind. Guide dogs help people with sight problems by being their eyes. A hearing dog supports someone that has a hearing loss so cannot hear what is going on around them. There are other Assistance dogs that will wear special jackets which will display the Assistance Dog UK logo. This is an umbrella organisation that charities that train Assistance dogs can sign up to and comply with their regulations to ensure all Assistance dogs are trained to a high standard and when out and about helping their recipient adhere to making their life better. Unfortunately like everything else there are some people who feel their ‘pet’ dog should be allowed into everywhere and have taken to making their own coats with the words Assistance dog or some phrase that implies they are trained. The reason behind Assistance Dog UK is to ensure dogs are trained to a high standard, all dogs have their yearly vaccinations, are treated for fleas and worming monthly and are safe to be in an environment where you would not normally find a dog.

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