Bailey, a labrador/retriever cross, stole all our hearts when Pam and Geoff Harper brought him along to our meeting in July. Bailey is learning to be a Hearing Dog for deaf people and Pam and Geoff are his socialisers. Bailey has been placed with Pam and Geoff whilst he undergoes his training and will live with them for about a year until he goes off to the training centre and then onto live and work with a deaf person. Pam told us about the journey for these special dogs right from when they are first bred, through all their training until they are ready to be placed with a recipient. Pam and Geoff’s role is to teach him obedience and social skills and to help him to become familiar with various sounds. Bailey is already learning to nudge Pam when he hears the alarm clock sound and he demonstrated this skill very well. As time goes on he will learn to respond to doorbells, telephone rings and most importantly a fire alarm. The dogs either lead the deaf person to the sound or, in the case of a fire alarm, will lie down blocking the deaf person’s path to signify danger. The dogs can also be trained to respond to the specific needs of the recipient. Unlike Dogs for the Blind, we are encouraged to speak and (with permission) pat Hearing Dogs as it is important that they become familiar with people. With hearing loss increasing in the UK, the benefits that having one of these dogs brings are vital as not only do they help alert deaf people to danger, they also provide independence, confidence and companionship and help relieve stress, isolation and loneliness that deafness often brings.