Lions Hearing Dogs is a project of the Lions Clubs of Australia & PNG who support the project with funds from the sale of Lions Mints, Lions Christmas Cakes & other special events. The programme was conceived in 1980 & is now endorsed by Doctor Harry Cooper. All dogs are trained in a Lions funded specialized centre in Handorf, South Australia. Nearly all potential Hearing Dogs come from either the RSPCA dog pounds or animal welfare centres. Only dogs aged between 8 & 24 months are selected & pedigree breeds are not considered. Each dog selected undergoes a rigorous test, taking over 20 minutes with only about 1 in 6 selected as being suitable.
At any one time there are up to 16 dogs in various stages of training which average about 4 -6 months before they are placed with their owner. During their time at the Centre the dogs have regular trips to shopping complexes, ride on buses and are taken to surrounding townships to familiarise themselves with places they will encounter once delivered. The centre they are trained in simulates most typical rooms in a household such as the lounge, kitchen, bathroom& bedroom. Also there is a large backyard with farmyard animals.
The dogs are trained to alert their owners by physical contact when the following situations occur:
Every effort is made to meet the applicant’s wish on the type of dog they want and when a dog has been assigned a photo is sent to the recipient and the sponsor, being the local Lions Club. They are then kept informed of progress, during training.
- The telephone rings
- There is a knock on the door or the doorbell rings
- The microwave sounds
- The alarm clock rings
- The smoke alarm is triggered
- The baby cries
- The kettle whistles
- Also to get another person in the residence.
Ballina Lions Club is sponsoring a Lions Hearing Dog for a married couple in Ballina, both of whom are hearing impaired. The couple are currently on the waiting list for their dog to finish training. When this happens and the dog is delivered, Ballina Lions Club will visit the couple regularly over several weeks after the initial familiarisation and training process to help them settle down and be happy with their hearing dog. The Club has also made a financial commitment to meet the training, travel and accommodation costs of the trainer who will accompany the Hearing dog initially on handover to the couple.
There is no charge to the Applicants who will have their independence and confidence restored. The dogs are working dogs that have complete access to all public places and transport.