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Hearing Aid Dogs

March 25, 2015
By Curt Grimm , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Editor's Note: This article originally ran in the 2014 Spring Issue of Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine. Look for Part II of this series from Curt Grimm in the April issue of Ohio Valley Outdoor Times and Mid-Ohio Valley Outdoor Times, due on newsstands April 15.

As one grows older, they hope they get wiser just like an old Tom turkey. The ability to hear is the prerequisite to a successful hunt. It is a shame that many hunters who start to lose their ability to hear drop out of their favorite sport of hunting turkey.

At a young age I lost my hearing to a great extent in my right ear. As I grew up hunting became a passion - with many rewards. Turkey hunting was the most challenging and required extra time and work. It created memories that will last a lifetime. The ability to turkey hunt with a hearing loss required a different but productive game plan.

Article Photos

The author with his two hunting companions, Rosie and Bolt. The dogs assist in hunting for turkey with their excellent hearing. Photo by Gary Grimm

I grew up with a dog as a pet and outdoor partner. The rewards were many. Using a dog to hunt turkey developed as I continue to add more years and became wiser. The technique to hunt with hearing aid dogs came to me as I relaxed against a favorite old oak tree and daydreamed about playing basketball. A hearing concern in the game of basketball results in making adjustments to produce winning results. When a teammate passed the ball or called my name, it sometimes would hit me in the face or cause me to trip.

A player with a hearing concern has a difficult time telling direction of the sound of the ball and fellow teammates calling your name. I had to make adjustments; for example, learn to be a better ball handler and bring the ball down court as the team would set up or run the end of out of bounds and increase the awareness of where the pass would come from.

Also, in the outdoors - I depend on my good eyesight to balance things out. I have learned to find four leaf clovers, Indian artifacts and animal signs easily. They jump out like fluorescent orange jelly beans in a candy jar.

Some of my friends have stopped turkey hunting, because they have increased hearing loss. Not being able to tell the direction of a gobble or cluck can be very frustrating. To be able to deal with their concerns, I use my two hunting buddies, Rosie and Bolt. They mean the world to me and are great companions with fantastic ability to hear and see. They sit on my lap on a hillside overlooking an oak or beechnut forest, and I use my locator call. They confirm the direction of the birds and I know where to start my hunt in the morning. When game laws permit they also can set quietly or walk with me and let me know the direction of the approaching turkey. The expression on the dog's face, the location of their ears and even the whiskers let me know something is coming and which direction to face for my shot.

Hunting turkey with dogs is a whole new world and has kindled a whole new appreciation of them. Dogs are truly a person's best friend and hunting buddy. It also has made it exciting for my wife because she now enjoys scouting with me, and is exciting because the new dog attire comes in green, blue and even pink camo.

One of the greatest advantages of a hearing aid dog is they come in all sizes and breeds. They need to know very few commands; for example, "stay" and "quiet". Best of all they are content to travel with and stay close to you. It is enjoyable to put my Yorkie in a big coat pocket when he starts to tire from a long hike. The Jack Russell can go all day and sometimes enjoys sitting on my shoulder and looking all around. They both truly enjoy the total experience and have created memories that I will cherish the rest of my life.

If I had perfect hearing, I would still enjoy this style of hunting. My hearing concerns have brought many rewards. Not being able to hear enhanced my abilities to listen and develop more precise vision; and most of all enjoy a whole new relationship with an animal that is truly amazing.



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