My Hero: How a Hearing Dog Changed My Life
She grew up as a mainstreamed student due to the lack of deaf education services in most U.S. school districts before 1973. Because her childhood was mostly spent in learning language and speech at the expense of academics, Nancy was determined to help those with hearing loss to escape a similar fate.
After being the first teacher of the deaf on the Navajo nation in her first year as an educator of the deaf, she has now spent over 30 years teaching in a variety of deaf education settings in three states. Nancy and her husband of 41 years, now living in Arizona, have two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, a granddaughter, and a fantastic hearing dog, Harley, who is a 2011 finalist for the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. Here, in her own words, Nancy describes the impact that Harley has had on her life.
When Harley drove up the driveway with his trainer, I saw only his face peeking over the back of the front seat. There was no connection.
I wasn't sure about having a hearing dog, but decided to give it a chance because the hearing spouse of a deaf man had told me it made her life so much easier.
During the first 15 minutes in the house, Harley showed me that he loved me a lot already. He had waited a long time to meet me, and we were going to have a great life together. He just knew.
I thought, "How do you know? You can't really know!" But I quickly became convinced. He demonstrated his array of sound work, showing me how much he wanted to do for me. For me. Little old, unimportant me! How does that happen?
So, on the very first day of Harley's arrival, after a lifetime of feeling a little out of the loop (although much-loved by my husband, children, and very close friends) – I felt connected. Really alive. Electricity flowing and sparking. Mind moving in fast-running pictures.
Six months after he came, my husband casually said, "Boy! My life sure is easier!" Ha.
Harley has helped me to accept the limitations of deafness. He has allowed me to change my life to accommodate my challenges, when I used to try the impossible and feel bad when I couldn't do it.
Thanks to Dogs for the Deaf, Harley has made not only my life better, but my family's life and my students' lives as well. He is an adorable ambassador, healer, philosopher and therapist, and he takes his job very seriously. Just don't ever tell him he's adorable! Tell him: "You're a good (hearing) dog, Harley Brown."
What a wonderful world we live in!
Nancy and Harley
The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards premieres on Hallmark Channel tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT.