Home > On Love/On Kindness > Do You Really Need A Hearing Dog?

Do You Really Need A Hearing Dog?

February 11, 2007


Written by Bug

Getting a hearing dog to work sounds for you in your home and possibly go with you into public – can be a life-changing experience. But it’s not necessarily the best choice for everyone. And it will be frustrating at times. Not everyone would agree, that’s understanding. In the past I thought that would be ridiculous to have a hearing dog just because you are deaf. I love all kind of animals. I love dogs. I respect the people with guide dogs and service dogs but hearing dogs? “Why do you really need one?”, I thought. I could do on my own without help…I didn’t need a “helper” in my life. I didn’t need my mommy to wake me up. However, I changed my opinion about the hearing dog. Here’s my story.

One day I worked at the Aspen Camp School for Deaf in Colorado. I went backpacking with the campers in the woods. On that day a camper was wandering around and disappeared. All of us were looking for him. I knew he had a whistle with him but how could any of us hear him? No hearing person was present. We searched for him for about 2 hours. I told myself, “I wish I have a hearing dog….” I sent my staff out of the mountain to contact the police. The rangers, searchers, sheriff, and firefighters came. There were about 50 people searchers looking for him. 12 hours later my camper was found because he blew his whistle. He was fine. He explained that he was curious and walked off the trail and got lost. He slept beside a dead log because he was tired.

After that I thought about getting a dog for some reasons. I just wanted to have a companion. Another reason was that I lived alone. I contacted International Hearing Dogs, Inc and applied for a dog. I got a beautiful trained hearing dog. She was a black mixed collie and retriever. Her name was Fancy. It was overwhelming to have her as a new family member in my life. She was more than ready to work sounds for me in my home and anywhere I went. It was a life-changing experience. This has given me a stronger sense of independence and security I didn’t realize how much I missed the “sound” around me.

Someone tried to break in my place, my dog was there to scare some burglars. How did I know? My doorknob was unlocked and open. Other time I was driving on a long road. Fancy jumped in the front seat from the back seat, she alerted me. I pulled over. She was pointing her nose at something so I opened my hood and found a broken fan belt. I was impressed! Other time I trained Fancy to search for the lost kids. She did very well by finding me the playful kids hiding behind the bush and woods. She would let me know when there was a person at the door. I thought it would be nice to have one, in case a fire alarm went off or something. At night Fancy would jump on the bed to make sure I was asleep before she went off duty. She would jump on me if I didn’t wake up when my alarm flashed. Something she enjoyed more than chasing squirrels. She was my best friend.

On the Flag Day, June 14 2002, Fancy was doing what she usually did in my vehicle on warm summer nights, hang her head out the window with her ears flapping, barking at the cows, sheep and horses. I noticed a truck traveling in the wrong lane. I flashed my lights warning him but the driver didn’t react. The driver crashed into us. I remember spinning around and watching the windshield shatter. I was hurt and bleeding. When we came to stop, I reached out to Fancy. She was scared and hurtful, she nipped on my palm. Fancy was bleeding. I could see her bones sticking out from beneath her fur. Most bones inside her broke. I pulled her to my legs and laid her face on my lap. She was looking at me. It was the most painful experience. I think she was trying to tell me good bye. My teardrops fell.

I was taken to the hospital where the state patrol later told me my dog had died. An officer said he was heartbroken to see my dog so he put her in his state patrol car. My body still hurts. My spirit and heart were broken. State Patrol officer said that driver was arrested because he was a habitual drunk.

Four days later I paid tribute to my hearing dog Fancy, with a full- blown funeral including music, spiritual readings and no fewer than 40 mourners. I believe animals have souls and spirits, the same as people. I buried my best beloved hearing dog Fancy at the Precious Memories Pet Cemetery near a creek because she liked water. “My last mile with you will never end. I love you. Eric,“ the headstone reads.

Categories: On Love/On Kindness
  1. February 11, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Oh my, I’m really sorry. Did you get another hearing dog, and was it different? I’d like to hear the rest of this story, and if you didn’t get another one, why not?
    I had a try with hearing dogs, too, but had to give up because my children demanded my attention more and the dog needed to be kept in training all the time which wasn’t easy with small kids. For people living alone, it would be ideal, but for families it didn’t work out for this one.

  2. deafmommy
    February 11, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Oh that’s so sad! Your dog Fancy looks so beautiful in that picture. Are you that same person that got hit by a drunk driver in Colorado and that the dog died? As your story sounds very similiar.

  3. ASLisRisen
    February 12, 2007 at 7:10 am

    Oh!!! Thanks for showing the picture of the beautiful snow and your cute dog! I am happy to see the picture of beautiful snow covered your (Pine or Cedar??) tree while we do not have much snow here in St. Louis!


  4. Peachlady
    February 12, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing this sad story about your hearing dog!

  5. Mike Y.
    February 12, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Tough Story!! Nice dog you had. Thumb up!

  6. February 12, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Dianrez, since her death, I still go through the treatment relating to my injuries such as broken teeth, neck injury, back pain, etc. even though it is almost 5 years I am still seeing the doctors. I know I would not give much time and my attention for a dog. When I am ready I will add another family member in my life not too soon. That guy who killed my dog, spent 2 years behind the bars. He had 5 DUI. He had no auto insurance. How nice of him…NOT!

  7. February 12, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    number 2: Thank you. Yes, its me 🙂

    number 3: Pine Tree….loook like a fat Cmas tree. 🙂 Glad to know you like that picture. 🙂

    number 4 & 5: thanks 🙂

  8. Mike Y.
    February 13, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    He should stay behind bar more longer since you said he had 5 DUI!!!!!!!!!!! What is wrong with state law !!!

  9. Deafdoglover
    February 14, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    WoW, you are a survivor. Thanks for sharing the story with us.

    He should have received life in prison with out the possibility of parole.

  10. February 22, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    thats one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. you should do a stand up act and take questions from the audience. I could help you get gigs.

  11. Deafguy
    March 16, 2007 at 9:55 am

    I did not see the picture. Anyway, sorry about what happened to you and your dog.

    Jim Norton, you have no moral. That’s for sure.

  12. June 6, 2007 at 11:49 am

    I was crying by the end of the story. I had a mixed border collie dog when I was a girl. I’ve thought about having a hearing dog, but I have two cats and one of them does a good job of alerting me when I am at home. Unfortunately, I can’t take her with me out in public — she gets so scared. I like the funeral you had for Fancy. Worthy tribute. Thank you for sharing the story with my blog. I hope others read yours too.

  13. June 27, 2007 at 1:18 am


    I felt knot my heart really pretty bad after I read your story.

    It’s seem not being fair to put him painful and not understand I agree with Mike Y’s comment. I think it is too weak the law system are too soft spot. I thought it is kind of stupidest about the guy were drunk. and now It should be relased already. It is not quiet fair. He should pay for the price.

    Fancy is part of your joy and life with her. I thought Fancy is perfect names for you. It is really very distrub me alot about the way he did to your dog. He never paid for his crime?

    Did he pay for funeral and Fancy’s Vet expense? I just wonder alot of time about this issues.

    I have been think about hearing dog for my lonely without Chris around while my kids will be leaving the house in the future or nearly retirement plans while my husband working night time.

    I need someone to be spent time with someone while my hubby would not retire until 70 yr who know?


  14. knightwolf68
    June 27, 2007 at 11:06 am

    hello bug !!! I do remeber about his story as he was in newspaper articles all over round colorado… I read the newspaper and broken my hearts .. I recall that time i was very angry at that driver who is habital drunk and drive .. He should be behind the jail for long time .. but he got short term to serves which isn’t approve by me at all… Right now Colorado got little stricter law on DUI who repeat DUI more than third times they will take away everything like house or car or boat whatever u name it .. to pay the victims bills something like that i am not sure how it work …

    I always remeber bug everytime i see him on line that remind me of that occurs that he went through …

  15. August 28, 2007 at 10:44 am

    The problem of having a certified hearing dog, from my understanding, is that you can’t adopt or even save other dogs. In other words, you are to have just this hearing dog, no more! This is where I have an issue with. I am for certified hearing dog only if they are rescue dogs and that people can have more than just one dog.

  16. Lisa Marie
    August 28, 2007 at 11:33 am

    When I read your story, I cried. I am so sorry that Fancy died.
    Fancy was so beautiful and very lucky to have you.

  17. Lisa Marie
    August 28, 2007 at 1:11 pm


    It’s not nice to say that way. I believe he can adopt when he is ready. I can tell by his story that he took a good care of Fancy and she’s his best friend.

  18. Elaine
    September 19, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Hello Bug,
    I finially got chance to look at few things on your website.
    I remember your story about fancy. Meeting Fancy was a joy to me. Remember we were in the mall and security came up to us and smiled to see her even a little girl too.

    Your sorry was intreasting to read and sad. I know I read about the accident long time ago,but this story made me cry.
    Animals are like people they are living beings and should be treated in court like us.
    I don’t understand something , if it were a police dog getting killed the person whom killed the dog would have gotten life in prison.
    I believe this is unfair and should be passed to people such as gov. Or president to make new law on killings of guard dogs and other dogs not just the police dogs..

    Bug, your a good friend and a good owner to Fancy and the next dog you get will be lucky to have you..

  19. DeafWoman
    November 2, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Oh man, your story made me cry, tons of it! I can’t imagine how that must’ve felt to experience this heartwrenching sad story you had with Fancy after the accident! Am so sorry about your loss! Sighs…Picture of her looked sooo beautiful, all black hair! I have a dog (mostly white-Jack Russell Terrier) who I cherish SO very much! I dread the day she will be taken from me when it’s her time…as she’s an incredibly wonderful and joyful companion to me and my cat. They’re a joy to watch as they love to play together! Hope you’ll get another dog, they are so worth it, worth our time! 🙂

  20. Linda Hobensack
    November 26, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    I had a hearing dog for 15 years. her death was like I lost my self idenity. She was part of me.

    I am currently working on my masters degree. I want to do a paper on grief following a service dogs death.

    If anyone has info please contact me
    Thanks Linda

  21. January 10, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Oh, that’s a sad story, Bug, but I’m glad to hear how useful Fancy was to you and how important he (she?) was to you.

    A service animal is more than a robot; it helps if you feel connected to it, as you do.

  22. Charlotte
    March 27, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    What a tragedy. I’m totally blown away by this story. I wonder what the follow-up is on the DUI driver, some never learn or change. Thank goodness Bug escaped alive, but I have been a dog owner all my life, presently I have a Canine Companion for Independence Hearing Dog, “Raive” and as we say, “she is like a pot of gold at the end of my leash”……I can barely write this reply just thinking of losing ‘man’s best friend’:(

  23. Mina
    August 22, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    I read your story about your hearing dog. I wish I had a friend and companion like that. I am deaf as well and would like to be able to know when there’s a knock at the door, the mail’s delivered, all kinds of hassles because of sound I cannot hear, not just to help with the loneliness.

    It is terrible that the habitual drunk got a “slap on the wrist” as a punishment. He deserved much more. When a hearing/service dog is killed in these kinds of scenarios, why doesn’t the law charge the criminal with dogslaughter? It makes no sense.

    I will pray for you so you’ll heal a little better and get peace a little faster. Its a long painful road, I know.

  24. September 23, 2008 at 8:40 am

    WOW sorry about what happened with ur dog, Fancy. i had a dog who i was connected with when i was a little kid, she always followed me all over, it a black lab, name Ruby… she is a very smart good dog… that drunk person who crashed onto u, need to get a life in prison.

  25. deafteal58
    June 14, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    I read your blog after you sent me your message.. It touched my heart and lovely pic of your dog, Fancy.. I just want to say I am so sorry about Fancy’s passing.. The truck driver should know better .. if drink, don’t drive! Wish him stay in prison for life.

  26. Cynthia
    June 14, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    What a lovely story. You had wonderful years with Fancy. I will definitely have a hearing dog if I ever get on my own again. This reminded me of my wonderful dog Lizzy, spaniel\border collie mix, who helped me being independent. They are a blessing. If you read the word dog, it is a no wonder.

  27. Cynthia
    June 14, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    What a lovely story. You had wonderful years with Fancy. I will definitely have a hearing dog if I ever get on my own again. This reminded me of my wonderful dog Lizzy, spaniel\border collie mix, who helped me being independent. They are a blessing. If you read the word dog backward, it is a no wonder 🙂

  28. Cynthia
    June 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Oops.. Read the word dog backward 🙂

  29. June 15, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I just read that and that is so heart broken it made me cry and upset and how rude the druck driver that should never be on the road.I hope he or she is lock up. Your dog fancy is so beautfully dog! and how wonderful that the hearing dog help deaf and i do have a dog she is red mearl aussie sherper her name REBA she does everything for me. I am so sorry that you lost your and she is alway in your heart!

  30. June 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    arrest that guy!!!

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