Welcome to your third Kai sponsorship update!

Kai is now living with new Volunteer Dog Trainers, called Chris and Kay. They are helping him advance through his training, while making sure he continues to love life.

They’re smitten. “Kai is just the most gorgeous boy,” says Kay. Chris agrees. “He has such excellent doggy manners, and he’s also really handsome. Everyone admires him.”

A dog is such a great way to make friends, which is why hearing dogs in particular help deaf people who might feel isolated or lonely. An especially handsome dog, admired by all, is a truly wonderful way to make many more friends!

Kai has developed a nice, steady routine. He spends four days a week with Chris and Kay, and one day at our Buckinghamshire training centre with Dog Training Instructor Darcy.

“It works really well,” Darcy tells us. “Chris and Kay help Kai with his grooming and handling, and take him into small local towns to practice being in busy areas. Then, I spend a day with him focusing on his soundwork.”

‘Soundwork’ is the name we give to our dogs’ amazing ability to recognise sounds and tell deaf people about them. It’s the practical way in which our dogs help deaf people, by recognising important sounds such as the baby monitor, or even life-saving sounds like the fire alarm.

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This is a big step for Kai, but one he’s taking in his stride. Darcy beams: “Kai is a quick learner. He thinks the soundwork is a game, so he’s having fun learning it! He gets a treat every time he’s right, so he gets plenty of treats.”

In this case, ‘right’ means nudging Darcy with his nose whenever he hears a specific sound. For example, Darcy has a cooker timer which she can place in another room. When Kai hears it, he goes off to find it, comes back to Darcy and gives her a gentle but insistent nose-nudge on her thigh. She says ‘What is it?’, holding her hands out, and Kai happily leads her back to the sound. We say ‘happily’ because he knows a tasty treat is coming his way for doing the ‘right’ thing! This is how Kai will eventually help a deaf person. As well as being their constant companion, helping them to leave loneliness behind, he’ll tell them about important sounds that are so vital for deaf people’s wellbeing on a daily basis. Kai will be their faithful friend, always listening out.

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Darcy has a clear idea of what Kai needs to practice: “Learning to focus! He gets so excited. Dogs learn best when they’re relaxed, so we play games to help him expend some energy, then start training.”

Kai is now training towards his Puppy Four Star award. This is the final step before becoming a fully qualified hearing dog. After that, it’s a case of finding the right deaf person for Kai. We put a lot of time and thought into matching the right person with the right dog, so that they can have a long, happy partnership together.

And there you have Kai! Darcy loves him: “He’s such a very friendly boy, with a larger than life personality.” Chris and Kay love him: “He is awesome!” We hope you love him too, maybe even think he’s awesome, because you have supported him along the way and followed his journey throughout.

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