Meet Cameron the hearing dog

Hearing dog Cameron, who met David Cameron

Hearing dog Cameron, who met David Cameron - Credit: Archant

Richard Carr from Cheadle says his hearing dog Cameron has changed his life, writes Emily Rothery

Richard Carr and his hearing dog, Cameron

Richard Carr and his hearing dog, Cameron - Credit: Archant

On his 48th birthday Richard Carr brought home his hearing dog Cameron for the first time and the pair are now inseparable. They had been carefully matched by the national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

‘Wherever I go, Cameron follows and my life has changed so much for the better,’ says Richard from Cheadle. I am profoundly deaf which is very tiring and can make life tough. I used to be very shy but now I am much more confident, which has made a huge difference, not just to me but my family too. Cameron’s loyalty and enthusiasm has rubbed off on me and inspired me to consider going back to college or part time work,’ says Richard.

Hearing dogs are trained to alert deaf adults and children to important household sounds such as doorbells, cooker and burglar, fire and baby alarms. A gentle nudge will alert the recipient who will then be led to the source of the sound. If the alarm signals danger then the highly trained dog will lie down. The recipients, who may feel isolated, can live more independently but also find companionship and emotional support through the life-enhancing partnership.

Cameron wears a distinctive burgundy jacket which prompts people to ask about his role and thus gain an insight into Richard’s invisible disability. ‘Having a hearing dog is a great way to start conversations, especially as people are intrigued to learn that, as a pup, he met his famous namesake, the Prime Minister at No 10 on the 30th anniversary of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Now our MP Mary Robinson hopes to arrange a visit with my wonderful hearing dog to the House of Commons’.

Richard Carr and his hearing dog, Cameron

Richard Carr and his hearing dog, Cameron - Credit: Archant

Richard has worked hard, raising funds and promoting Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. In 2015 he completed all ten of the Great British Dog Walk events for the charity, visiting ten National Trust sites along the way.

The walk began in Scotland, visited Formby Beach in Lancashire and passed through Devon. The public showed support by joining the walk and Richard met many people and their four-legged fund raisers along the way, including two town mayors and Adam Henson of Countryfile with his dog Boo and Countdown’s Rachel Riley. ‘We led one walk; it was a cracking experience, and lovely to hear the dogs ‘talking’ to each other.’

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Over 2,250 people and their dogs participated in the Great British Dog Walk and raised over £37,000. Richard and Cameron raised over £5,000, a fantastic achievement that was recently recognised by their being named as the charity’s partnership of the month. ‘The people and businesses of Cheadle, Stockport and surrounding towns have been so generous and Cameron has become quite a celebrity,’ says Richard.

Rachel Hassey, Community Fund Raising Manager for the North West explains that the charity, which has no Government funding, couldn’t do the job without the help of volunteers. ‘Alongside fund raisers we get invaluable help from volunteer breeders and puppy socialisers who teach basic obedience.

Richard Carr and his hearing dog, Cameron

Richard Carr and his hearing dog, Cameron - Credit: Archant

‘When ready, they go to one of the two splendid training centres for advanced training’. Each dog is trained to the specific needs of the deaf individual they have been matched with. It costs £25,000 to breed and train a dog and £15,000 for lifelong support.

Come and join us

The next Great British Dog Walk will take place from March to June 2016 and will possibly include 20 walks throughout the UK, including Lyme Park near Stockport, with the option of a 3 or 8km walk. Richard and Cameron will be completing some walks and all are welcome to join the fun and raise funds. The charity’s Cheshire Fundraising Branch is also holding its own walk at Arley Hall near Northwich, for the ninth year in succession, on Sunday April 17th.