Elmo is a tiny Terrier Cross who started his life in some turmoil; as a puppy, he was surrendered to a shelter. Sadly, in Australia, more than half of dogs that go into shelters don’t come out again. Luckily for Elmo – and his future family – he would be one of the lucky ones.
Elmo was soon rescued by a very special organisation and enrolled into a temporary foster program with a loving program where he was surrounded by love and attention. Elmo was lucky pup 542.
The day Elmo left the foster program, it was to join his other rescued companions at Australian Lions Hearing Dogs. Elmo spent six months at the Australian Lions Hearing Dogs HQ in South Australia, training hard alongside his fellow rescue pups to become a support dog.
The work was challenging, but Elmo was so good at it! He learned to identify ‘dangerous’ sounds like smoke alarms and house alarms; to know what an emergency situation is when everyone has to evacuate; to ‘tell’ his owner when someone is at the door, or when their phone is ringing madly.
It was there he would wear his first bright orange coat which would one day become his uniform.
When his training was complete (and with his orange uniform proudly in place), Elmo was introduced to his first owner. The match didn’t go as hoped; it turned out the owner wanted more of a pet than a worker. The match wasn’t right for Elmo or the owner, so Elmo returned to HQ. They knew he would find a human who was a perfect match – it would just take time.
It turns out his perfect match wasn’t far away at all.
His owner-to-be, Peta, has always had hearing loss. When Peta’s mother was pregnant she contracted Rubella, impacting her unborn child. Peta developed a hearing impairment from the virus, which would become pronounced by the time she was three. By then, she only had 75% of her hearing, which would continue to decline as she grew up. Peta would try different types of hearing aids with different degrees of success, feeling increasingly frustrated until after some years, an Audiologist recommended Peta investigating her suitability for a cochlear implant.
After the operation, the cochlear implant brought back sounds she had not heard in years, but when the external processor of the implant is removed at night, Peta returns to silence in the dark and fills with anxiety over the things she cannot hear that we all listen out for in our sleep.
Soon after, Peta first heard about the support dogs supplied by Lions Hearing Dogs. Pets filled out the application and after a rigorous process she was advised that she was a successful candidate, all while Elmo was hard at work in his training. Elmo’s Trainer was prepping him for the flight to Busselton, where both they and the Head Trainer would meet Peta. In the meantime, she had received a photo of her little rescue pup, and was just so excited to meet him.
When they finally did meet, it was instant love.
Now, months later, Elmo has found his place in the world by Peta’s side, helping her navigate the world as her brace, four-legged hearing aid and helping her have a peaceful sleep at night.