By Theresa Brooks , Hearing Dog Program Graduate
To the Perry and Ruby Stevens Foundation and Everyone Who Helped Me Get Tux:
My name is Theresa Brooks, and I received the wonderful gift of Tux in September 2012. He is a border collie who seems to have been made for this home. From what I heard he was the youngest in his class, but he is a fast learner. He has changed my husband’s and my lives for the better.
Tux has helped in ways I never imagined. He alerts me to my phone ringing, my alarm going off for my medications (which I tend to forget), and knocking on the door. When my alarm clock goes off in the morning, he nudges me to wake me. My husband can call me and Tux will come find me. He has lessened my anxiety. I am not afraid to be at home alone or go outside alone, especially at night, because Tux is there and will let me know if he hears anything. My husband is not afraid to leave me at home and go to the store, or even out of town to visit his family, since Tux is there to hear for me.
We practice with Tux at home to help him keep his skills up. One day my husband, who is in a wheelchair, went out of the garage and headed towards the front door to practice alerting to knocking. He happened to hit a crack in the pavement and fell out of his wheelchair. A neighbor saw what happened and came to the door in the garage to knock for me. Tux had a habit of barking when he heard someone at the door he didn’t know. This time was different. When the neighbor came to our garage door he knocked only once, but Tux alerted me quickly and took me to the door. I did not know why he took me to that door. I thought maybe my husband came back to the garage. It was as if Tux knew that my husband needed help and our neighbor was there to get me.
Other than hearing loss I also have multiple other medical problems including seizures, of which I usually have one or two a year. Not long after we got Tux, he was in his crate in the bedroom and I was in bed ready to go to sleep. My husband was in the office across the apartment on the computer and heard a loud whine he had not heard before. When he headed toward the bedroom, he heard me call out for him. Tux knew that I was going to have a seizure before I did and warned my husband.
I recently had cochlear implant surgery. We had to drop Tux off in Dripping Springs for a few days for my surgery and beginning of recovery. I had gotten so attached to Tux that I cried almost the whole way home. I knew he would be taken care of but I already missed him and I depended on him more than I realized. During recovery, Tux was so patient and sat with me while I wasn’t feeling well. He rarely left my side.
Tux is not only a worker; he is also a companion. He sometimes shows his puppy side when he is not working. His favorite game is hide and seek. I will go hide and he will come find me and he gets so excited when he finds me. A couple times he has turned the game around and hid from me, and when I found him he got so excited he could hardly hold it in. He loves his belly rubs, but you better stay away from his tail unless you have a pig ear ready. He loves playing with stuffed toys with squeakers, and for some reason he tears all the ears off the toys. The only reason I can come up with is that he thinks they shouldn’t be able to hear if I can’t.
Tux loves being outside and playing with other dogs. We recently moved to a new apartment that has a large patio that he enjoys. He will move the curtain out of the way showing us he wants to go outside. We go out on the patio and Tux just relaxes. We also have a dog park which he gets to go to every once in a while. He loves to run, and if there are any other dogs there he plays chase with them. For some reason he always gets chased by the little dogs.
I want to thank everyone involved in me receiving the gift of Tux; from the workers at the shelter that took wonderful care of him until he was picked by Service Dogs, to everyone at Service Dogs that helped get Tux trained and ready to come home, and to those who made donations that made the process possible. Without everyone involved none of this would be possible. Everyone involved has changed my life. With Tux I feel safer, and I am able to be more independent, even for simple things like going outside without worries. Again, thank you all.
Theresa Brooks, RN