Wednesday, July 15, 2009
A beta test in the Seattle area is over this afternoon after an unsuccessful trial of pairing deaf cats with trained hearing dogs.
Hearing dogs are used to assist deaf and/or hard of hearing cats by alerting them to a variety of household sounds such as a knock on the front door, doorbell, alarm clock, oven timer, telephone, screaming spouse, or smoke alarm.
The service dogs are specially trained to make physical contact with the cats and lead them to the source(s) of the sound.
“The doorbell rang and that (dog) tried to eat me,” said Matzoh, a 14-year-old, spayed Domestic Short Hair. “What the hell?”
Matzoh was nearly eaten by his hearing dog
Matzoh and 15 other deaf Seattle-area cats were paired up with hearing dogs and agreed to work together for a two-week trial.
Hearing dogs are generally mixed breeds acquired from local animal shelters and are usually medium to large in size. They are easily identified by wearing an orange collar and leash and/or vest when they are working in public.
“I had to sleep on the roof for two weeks,” said Rambo, a 7-year-old, neutered, Persian Mix. “That dog would not stop chasing me, I lost three pounds.”
“All I wanted was the morning paper” said Jared
Dogs who apply to become hearing dogs are tested for proper temperament, sound reactivity, and willingness to work with cats.
Only after passing their first screenings, are they trained in basic dog obedience and exposed to dangerous things they will face with the cats out in public such as parking lots, crosswalks, and mimes.
“The dinger on the microwave would go off and the dog would drag me out of the house thinking it was on fire,” said Maplethorpe, a 9-year-old, neutered Domestic Short Hair.
Dieter layed his hearing dog out with a roundhouse punch
Hearing dogs may be trained professionally in as little as three months, though many are trained for closer to a year. Generally, training involves getting the dog to recognize a particular sound and then physically alert or lead their cat to or away from the source.
“We would go for walks and instead of keeping me away from cars he would chase them and drag me six miles down the road,“ said Dieter, a 3-year-old, Former Feral, Domestic Short Hair. “There are speed bumps where I live. When we got home I beat (him).”
After results were compiled, it was decided hearing dogs should not be paired with deaf cats.
Copyright Sharyn Thoma
Posted by The Kitty City Gazette at 1:32 PM