Knaresborough couple socialise 50th Hearing Dog puppy

An award-winning volunteer is socialising his fiftieth puppy for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People as he prepares another fundraising event for the charity.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 11:36 am

Derrick McRobert, who was presented with an award by The Princess Royal on behalf of the group in 2018, is a familiar sight in Knaresborough with wife Eleanor who has a hearing problem.

“We have had over 30 puppies but there have been other socialisers and I think Cai, may well be the fiftieth Hearing Dog puppy to socialise in Knaresborough,” said Derrick.

“We are also part of the Harrogate Fundraising group of Hearing Dogs and that has been difficult in the last 20 months, due to Covid.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hearing Dog Bruce, immortalised on a phone box painting in Knaresborough.

“We have had sales in our gateway and are having another on Saturday November 13, at 3 Aspin Lane, Knaresborough, and also a model rail layout in the garden.”

Hearing Dogs provide support canines to help deaf people in daily life and the Knaresborough couple started puppy socialising after Eleanor attended the training centre with her lip-reading group.

“We started with a boxer-cross called Blade, closely followed by a Lhasa Apso called Digby,” explained Derrick.

“And 16 years later we have Cai who was was born (in the Hearing Dogs breeding scheme) just before lockdown-one.

“We would never have been so successful without the people of the town supporting us.”

A painting of recently trained black poodle Bruce is on the phone box on Aspin Lane and King James’s Street.

“He was the first puppy we did sound work with, teaching him to alert us to sounds and to nudge with his nose,” added Derrick.

“He was such a character that our neighbours, who commissioned the picture, included him as a surprise for us.”

Derrick said that before Covid, a puppy would start its socialising at about eight weeks, being carried to places to get as wide a range of experiences as possible.

Then there followed more training, with puppy classes every fortnight and visits from a trainer in between.

“Every day is training day,” explained Derrick.

“We usually start with an early morning off-lead walk (and toilet) followed by breakfast.

“In the morning we will probably do a training walk on short lead, and perhaps some shopping exercises.

“The first place to visit for this is usually the library, then games for recall and awareness can be used in the afternoon.

“Cafe training, used to get puppies to settle in an eating environment, starts at home and then progresses to coffee shops and on to pubs and cafes.

“We have always had fantastic support from the shop, pub and cafes proprietors of Knaresborough.

“The puppies have also to get used to walking at night and also travelling on buses and trains, so it is a full day when socialising/training.

“Our neighbours have been used extensively for “visiting another house” exercises.”

Derrick added: “Socialising training is very rewarding.

“After the hard work, suddenly your puppy does everything right and intuitively and you know your puppy is going to go off to work.

“He/she can change the life of someone who has become isolated by deafness and become a loyal, delightful and constant companion.”

Anyone who would like to be a If you think it sounds fun look-up on the Hearing Dogs website and volunteer.