Hale volunteers take in hearing dog puppy as charity launches training scheme

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A hearing dog puppy has taken up residence in Hale to mark the launch of a brand new puppy training scheme for national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

The 10-week-old Cocker Spaniel puppy, named Abney, is now settling into her new home with volunteers Mark and Lesley Thornton. Abney is the first of many young pups to start the scheme, which will train clever puppies to become fully qualified hearing dogs.

Lesley said: “We’ve not been able to have a dog before due to our work schedules. Since I retired and Mark started to work from home we realised that it is now something we can do, and being able to not only have a dog but contribute to raising a very important assistant dog seems like the best of both worlds.”

Volunteers are needed to care for an eight-week-old puppy in their home for up to 14 months, and will receive full support and guidance from the charity.

Below: Michelle Taylor from Hearing Dogs for the Deaf (left), volunteer trainer Lesley Thornton, from Hale, and Abney

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Michelle Taylor, the local puppy training instructor, will regularly visit each volunteer at home, and will also run puppy training classes on a regular basis.

When the puppies are older they will be returned to one of the charity’s training centres to begin a bespoke training course to learn to alert to sounds like the doorbell, alarm clock and fire alarm. Once qualified, each dog will then be partnered with a severely or profoundly deaf person.

The charity is hoping to train around 25 puppies in the area, and two more puppies have recently arrived in Knutsford and Sandbach.

Lesley added: “Abney is doing really well. Nothing seems to faze her; she is taking every experience in her stride. She’s already proving very popular with the locals and that’s just walking her around in my arms!

“We’re really happy to be volunteering; ou get such a strong satisfaction, knowing that you’re helping change a deaf person’s life whilst also learning how to correctly train and socialise a puppy.”

To find out more about volunteering in Cheshire and Manchester, visit Hearing Dogs for Deaf People or contact volunteer@hearingdogs.org.uk

Below: 10-week-old Cocker Spaniel puppy, Abney

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