Introducing International Hearing Dog's newest team, Bailey & Hearing Dog Alta!
Bailey, a bubbly and upbeat preschool teacher from Missouri, first began exploring the possibility of a hearing dog when she was a Freshman in high school. Bailey has Usher’s Syndrome, an inherited condition characterized by the impairment of both hearing and vision. Because Usher’s Syndrome is a progressive disease, Bailey and her parents realized that her hearing loss was only going to worsen with time and they felt a hearing dog could make a profound difference in Bailey’s life. This is where IHDI enters the story!
Bailey's wait for the right match was a long one. During those years, she got engaged and married; moved to a new town; and started a new job. As expected, Bailey’s hearing deteriorated. Bailey hears very little without hearing aids, which are removed when sleeping or showering. Bailey can easily sleep through a 100-decibel alarm clock and miss her doorbell that flashes lights. Dylan, Bailey’s husband who works nights, was very concerned about Bailey’s safety being alone through the night. Their hope was that a hearing dog, serving as Bailey's ears when she was alone, could bring greater safety, comfort, and peace to all of them.
Not only will Alta be Bailey’s ears at night, but also whenever her hearing aids are removed. Bailey can’t hear without her hearing aids, and like many, she doesn’t always wear them. Putting in her hearing aids is the last thing Bailey does before she heads out the door as hearing aids can become uncomfortable after a long day and sometimes the quiet is welcomed.
When Bailey first met Alta, a Chocolate Lab, she sat on the floor and accepted Alta's "hugs" and very wet kisses with a smile and open arms. Alta is a dog with a big presence and a big personality. Her exuberance and energy can be a bit much for some, but thankfully she was matched with a person who shines as bright as she does. There is always a moment where we hold our breath after a match is made, crossing our fingers, and hoping that not only do the dog and client work well together but that they like each other too. Within about 48 hours, it became clear that we could breathe with ease. Bailey has natural dog handling tendencies, and skillfully balanced letting Alta be her goofy, playful self, and knowing when it was time to work. The two hit the ground running and tackled sound alert training including learning all the basic obedience cues, and multiple public outings on the light rail and at DIA, all in one week. Bailey expressed being nervous about the outings but always came out on the other side feeling more confident. We're certain that this confidence will continue to grow as the two navigate new adventures together. Bailey now has a devoted companion with her at work when she is teaching, and at home when her husband is away. Alta will be there, a constant shadow, ready to jump up and alert Bailey to a phone ring, timer beep, smoke alarm, or the doorbell. Bailey and Alta are a good match, but their hard work together is what makes them a GREAT TEAM!
As the Bailey and Alta wrapped up their 8-Day Team Training course at IHDI, Bailey stated “I was emotional and cried a little bit right after passing the Public Access test because I realized that I CAN do this, like 'WOW - We got this!' I can truly realize what a difference having Alta will be in my life - at home and in public.”
Congratulations Hearing Dog Team Bailey & Alta!