Dog Stories by
It was a cold morning in New York
when volunteer worker named Sue arrived at the animal shelter. A brown dog was
tied to the door, shivering. Someone had left this mixed breed, shaggy animal
to her fate. Sue brought her inside and made her comfortable with food and bedding.
After the next few days, the staff examined the dog and evaluated her potential
for adoption. She was energetic but a bit stubborn. She was smart but she learned
only what she wanted to learn. This stubbornness would prove both a liability
and an asset. On two occasions, the dog was taken for adoption and then returned
because her behavior was unreliable. But the dog was very cute, charming and
funny. She was good natured and quick to learn.
Feeling that there was a lot to
this dog, Sue couldn’t allow her to be put down. She decided she would
convince her niece Dana, to take her on. Dana worked as a trainer for the Red
Acre Farm Hearing Dog Center and was always looking for potential hearting dogs.
The first time Dana met the dog, the animal was standing on top of a dresser
wagging her whole body in anticipation of a good time. She was a natural actress
and proved to be one of the best hearing dogs Dana had ever trained. She began
her career as “Manhattan Hattie”. To become a hearting dog, Hattie
had to be rigidly trained to differentiate among the many sounds in the home:
the ringing telephone, the knock on the door, the crying baby, the buzzing alarm
clock, the fire alarm signal. She had to get her human’s attention and
to respond appropriately to each kind of noise.
If someone were knocking at the
door, Hattie would need to the deaf person, put her paws on the person’s
legs and lead her to the door. If the smoke alarm went off, Hattie would paw
at the deaf person and immediately lie down - getting her human’s attention
but preventing the two of them from entering an area where a fire might be burning.
Dana’s job entailed screening possible hearing dogs, training them and
then team training the deaf person with the dog in the home,. Dana had become
very attached to Hattie, and being an infallible worker, she became the demonstration
for Red Acre. She and Dana traveled the country teaching, giving over 50 demonstrations.
Hattie showed both deaf and hearing people how hearing dogs could enhance lives
just as much as seeing-eye dogs.
When I first met Manhattan Hattie,
she was four and starting to experience renal problems. She had been diagnosed
with an adrenal tumor, abnormal kidney readings and some incontinence. Hattie
had to stay clean and dry and continue to be useful. Dana agreed to acupuncture
and herbs, both systems addressing the major problems. Hattie responded well,
went on to three more years of demonstrating, teaching and fund-raising and then