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Jessie the life changing labrador

Avril Marsh

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Christine Wright Marple High Lane Hearing dog

Christine Wright and her hearing dog Jessie

“My life depends on her,” says Christine Wright from High Lane. She’s talking about a three-year-old Labrador, and she’s not exaggerating, because Jessie is her hearing dog.  Christine started to lose her hearing in her teens, and is now quite deaf. Lip reading and hearing aids help, but Jessie makes all the difference.  

“Her sound work training means she alerts me to fire and smoke alarms, as well as to the everyday sounds hearing people take for granted, such as the alarm clock, telephone, doorbell and cooker timer.” As well as security and independence at home, a hearing dog gives great support socially and emotionally.  

“Many people who are deaf tend to withdraw from the community.  It’s embarrassing not to hear what’s going on, and you feel it’s frustrating for others, so you give up.  Seeing Jessie in her jacket tells people I cannot hear and prompts a smile. Everyone wants to make a fuss of her - it’s like being out with a celebrity,” says Christine.    

Jessie is Christine’s third hearing dog. “They usually retire at 11, but my previous one, Benny, retired early after a leg injury. Jenny, my first, worked to 15, and so eagerly that she once jumped into the bath with me to tell me the phone was ringing.”  Christine is now a volunteer for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People - the charity that breeds, trains then oversees the dogs throughout their careers. A former lecturer, she is not fazed by public speaking and enjoys giving talks at schools, clubs and community groups, generating awareness and raising much-needed funds, as  there is a two-year waiting list for hearing dogs. Training takes about 18 months, with the last stage carefully matched to the recipient’s particular needs: the lifetime cost per dog is £45,000.  

*Christine and Jessie invite you to join them at a fund-raising 

Coffee Morning:  Wednesday 11 April, at St Thomas’s Church, High Lane, 10.30 am-12 and at

The Great British Dog Walk: Sunday 19 May, Lyme Park, Disley. 

Registration from 10am, walks start 11am, 3k or 7k routes. Adults £10 in advance, £12 on the day (includes doggy bandana). Under 16s & dogs go free.

With 'have a go' dog agility, a fun dog show, games, stalls, refreshments, demo team, pet and hearing dogs welcome.   

For Lyme Park tickets & more information about HDDP, email sophie.meadows@hearingdogs.org.uk. or tel: 01844 340 717, mob: 07769 901 297 or visit website  www.hearingdogs.org.uk