After taking in Jed the labrodor as a tiny puppy and training him for a year, nine-year-old Lily Hastie and her parents found it hard to say good-bye to him.
The family from Dunkeswick near Harewood said their emotional good-byes when Jed progressed in his training as a hearing dog for deaf people.
Lily’s mum, Jen, said: “It has been hard to say good-bye, but I am so proud of what we have done, I am especially proud of Lily, Jed became her best friend.”
Lily said: “I love him and he will make someone who really needs him happy.”
The family took on the role of puppy socialisers for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, after reading an article about it in The Harrogate Advertiser.
“Lily had wanted a dog for a while and I wanted to show her how much responsibility having a dog really is,” said Jen.
“I also wanted her to appreciate how she could help others less fortunate than herself in a very rewarding way.
She added: “It is a lot or commitment socialising a hearing dog.
“You also get to go to a lot of places you wouldn’t normally get to go with a dog, on buses, trains, to the shops.
“We took him to Marks and Spencer quite a few times and they were really good about us going there.
“I was worried as he was still training, I thought ‘please don’t wee on the floor Jed.’”
Jed is now undergoing specialist sound training and hopefully in the next few months will start working with a deaf person.
The family have lots of happy memories with Jed from the past year and plan to keep fundraising for the charity.
Jen said: “Jed has even done his own fundraising.
“We took him to valley gardens and he ran off sniffing about, we thought he would come back with a stick or a banana skin but he had a £10 note someone must have dropped in his mouth.
“It went straight in the charity pot.”
Lily in particular enjoyed the charity’s Christmas party.
“It was really cool and there was so many other puppies there, some of them were really tiny.”
She added: “I want other people to do what we did and train a dog like Jed to help someone else.”
Her mum agrees: “It was really rewarding, and I would recommend it to anyone.”
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
The charity trains hearing dogs for deaf children and adults to provide confidence, independence and valuable companionship.
Hearing dogs are trained to alert their deaf recipients of household sounds and danger signals such as the alarm clock, doorbell, telephone and smoke alarm.
Breeds used are Labradors, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, poodles or a cross of these.
Puppy soclialisers are required to take on a dog for 12 months and carry out basic obedience training.
Jane Thurlow, puppy socialising team leader said: “It’s a big commitment, you can’t leave them alone for more than four hours, outside space must be encloses and you have tot take the puppy to training classes.”
For more information on how to become a puppy socialiser visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk