With Zorro in my life, the frustrations of missing sounds are ancient history

Josh Calzada and his Hearing Dog Zorro  Josh, who is severely hearing impaired, is an architect in San Antonio.  His enjoys ballroom dancing and kayaking in his free time.

Josh Calzada and his Hearing Dog Zorro
Josh, who is severely hearing impaired, is an architect in San Antonio. His enjoys ballroom dancing and kayaking in his free time.

Dear Contributors to Service Dogs, Inc.

I wanted to take the time to thank you for helping Zorro and I become a Hearing Dog team.  Zorro has been a wonderful addition to my life and I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade him for anything right now.  In addition, the timing of Zorro entering my life couldn’t be better. I was just in the process of moving out of my parents’ house and buying my first house when I received a call from SDI that they might have a dog for me.  Just about all my fears of living on my own were immediately gone when I knew a Hearing Dog was coming to join me.

I’ve spent all my life being severely hearing impaired, due to the fact that I was born with Mondini Syndrome.  While I managed to live most my life with the benefit of wearing hearing aids, I still missed out on a majority of important sounds.  Especially the high pitched ones.  I spent most of my childhood missing out on the doorbell, phone ringing and my mother calling me from upstairs.  Unfortunately, a lot of people make the mistake of assuming I can hear decently due to the fact that I speak well and clearly; therefore, they don’t see me as a hearing impaired person and I miss sounds once in a while.  In fact, I can remember seeing the frustration on people’s faces due to the lack of responses they would get from me.  It definitely made me feel a little down when such an incident happened.

Fortunately with Zorro in my life now, all that is ancient history.  He does his job wonderfully to make sure I don’t miss out on sounds anymore.  People around me no longer make the mistake of assuming I’m a normal hearing person and try to go out of their way to make sure I understand them.  In addition, he also brings along wonderful companionship, so I never feel lonely anymore.  I feel more obligated to go outside more and be more active.  I try to include him in just about every activity I engage in.  Also, I’m forced to engage with a lot more people out in public due to the reaction I get in stores with people seeing a dog.  He really helps break the ice when it comes to meeting new people and that’s something I didn’t anticipate.  Overall my life has dramatically improved with him at my side.

Honestly, I applied to SDI not knowing what to expect.  I remember seeing a little demo at my high school with another Hearing Dog.  Afterwards, I knew I was interested in getting one.  I’ve always been a dog lover growing up and always loved movies that were based on animals.  When I first saw Zorro at the training center sticking his head out from behind a stairway peeking at me for the first time, I somehow knew he was the one I was waiting for.  For some reason, I had pictured a big black dog and that is exactly what he was!  He brought a big smile went to my face when I first saw him.

After that first meeting with Zorro, the staff of SDI was extremely helpful with the transition of bringing him to my house.  They really went out of their way to make the change from the training facility to my house as easy as possible…never once did I feel like I was on my own.  They prepared me by having a week long course at their facility and then afterwards a trainer came to my house every week and followed up on any issues that might have come up.  They were always immediately available through emails and phone calls in case of anything.

Zorro has been a wonderful dog through this whole process.  I rarely ever got frustrated with him during this whole transition period.  He is always on top of things whenever he hears the microwave, oven, or doorbell goes off.  In fact, with him around I can never procrastinate with my laundry anymore since he’s always telling me when the machine’s timer goes off and I have to go with him.  He’s really smart and gifted and I enjoy teaching him other things besides work, since he is always so eager to learn.

Thank you so much for your contribution to Texas Hearing & Service Dogs.  People like you make organizations like THSD stay active and continue to help people like me be more independent.  Having a tail wagging friend like Zorro in my life is definitely priceless.


Josh Calzada