Lions Australia has sponsored Lions Hearing Dogs since its inception. However, there are still some Lions and Lioness’ who know little or nothing of the good work done by this unique South Australian organisation.
Many individual Lions Clubs throughout Australia have sponsored a Lions Hearing Dog for placement with a hearing impaired person in their area.
This is the story of my involvement with the Bondi Lions Club when I received my Lions Hearing Dog.
My name is Faye Yarroll and I was born with a hereditary sensorineural hearing loss. I have subsequently lost the small amount of hearing I did have in my right ear due to an accident and my left ear to an adverse reaction to a prescription medication. My brother Robert also has poor hearing and wears two hearing aids. We share our home together in Sydney NSW and could easily be described as deaf and deafer! However, I consider myself very lucky to be living at a time when help for severely hearing impaired people has never been better and is usually easily accessible.
That help initially came for me when I received my first Cochlear implant. It proved so successful that I received a second implant soon after. I now have bilateral Cochlear implants.
Faye Yarroll and her lions hearing dog
These implants greatly changed my life for the better and I soon became an advocate of Cochlear implants. I now spread the word near and far to help other hearing impaired people improve their lives too. However, I found that when I’m not wearing my Cochlear processor (at bedtime for example) my ability to react to any night-time emergency is almost zero. My brother suffers from various health issues that can sometime require my help during the wee hours. So naturally, it can be a real problem for both of us if I miss his call for help.
I can remember giving information about getting a Cochlear implant to a man in Darwin. He proceeded with the implant and has never looked back. It was this person who brought to my attention the wonderful world of the Lions Hearing Dogs. I hadn’t known that a little place named Verdun, way-up high in the Adelaide Hills, is home to a very unusual dog training centre. This wonderful place produces little miracles that go forth throughout Australia to help hearing impaired people live a much better life than would otherwise be the case.
The Lions Hearing Dogs small team of passionate experts carefully search-out dogs from far and wide that display the important attributes needed for intensive training as helpers for the hearing impaired. This help includes alerting their master to a knock at the door, door bell and telephone ringing, alarm clock sounding, oven timer, baby crying and smoke alarms.
I soon realised that this sort of assistance dog would be a great help to me. And especially when I discovered the dogs can be taught a GO GET command. This would mean whenever my brother needed urgent help he would simply have to say this command and the dog will immediately alert me to the situation. Another problem solved! I enquired how to apply for a Lions Hearing Dog and was delighted when my application was accepted.
Although I didn’t realise it at the time, each dog must be sponsored by a Lions Club. So the Bondi Lions Club generously sponsored a beautiful little two-year-old Beaglier named Sydney (the offspring of a Beagle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) to be my hearing dog. Their sponsorship involved a payment to the Lions Hearing Dogs and a commitment by the Club to provide members for Sydney’s local follow-up training. I could not have been luckier.
Little Sydney is a gem … beautiful to look at with a personality to match. Although she arrived fully trained, she was accompanied by her South Australian trainer who proceeded to train me during my first week with Sydney. It was then the responsibility of the Lions Bondi members to ensure I continued the training regime over the following twelve weeks. Lions Ron, Adrian and Gus became regular visitors to my home and Sydney and I always looked forward to each training session. Our on-going training must have been successful because Sydney received her full Accreditation after the twelve-week period.
I’m now a passionate advocate for two worthy causes, Lions Hearing Dogs and Cochlear implants. I volunteer much of my time talking about these subjects and have spoken to more than 36,000 people over the past few years. This has resulted in many hearing impaired people regaining their hearing or hearing for their very first time.
Sydney now accompanies me to speaking engagements and has brought the Lions Hearing Dogs at Verdun to the attention of many people. She delights folks everywhere she goes. I’m happy to say that after meeting Sydney many people have forwarded donations to the Lions Hearing Dogs to help them continue their important work.
Recently, Robert and I (and Sydney) were invited to attend the Bondi Lions Club Changeover and 60th Anniversary celebration at Woollahra Golf Club. It was great to see my old friends again and make new ones too. However, I soon realised there was an ulterior motive for our invitation when I was awarded the Helen Keller Fellowship Plaque. This plaque is in recognition of dedicated service to the community. Helen Keller lived from 1880 to 1968. She was an American author, political activist and lecturer, and the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
I felt humble receiving the beautiful award and deeply appreciate all the heartfelt good wishes from those who consider me worthy of such an honour.
How lucky am I … a profoundly deaf woman with two Cochlear implants and a beautiful Lions Hearing Dog? Both of these amazing aides enable me to live a happy and fulfilling life. It’s a great feeling!
Always remember; every dog has his day … unless he loses his tail … and then he has a weak-end.
P.S. I sincerely thank you if you’re a Lion or Lioness who supports the Lions Hearing Dogs Inc.