Haven Has Become A Critical Piece Of My Life!
My name is William Rupert.
I am an Army veteran who worked for Discount Tire for 20 years after my time in the service. I come from a large family and
am one of nine children. I have been married 35 years this year, and have one son and three beautiful grandchildren (two boys ages 11 and 10 and one granddaughter age 7). My favorite hobbies include travel and outdoor activities such as fishing.
I have a hearing challenge that has grown over the years. About 10 years ago I had surgery to replace the tiny bone in my left ear that I can now hear out of with a hearing aid. I have almost total loss out of the right ear. My surgery has also given me frequent episodes of vertigo which prevents me from having further surgery.
My life was challenging and I was homebound. I can’t hear at drive thru and grocery stores. I wasn’t able to walk alone due to some very close calls with walking in front of cars. In fact, Christmas 2014, I had a very close call walking out of a grocery store and was nearly hit by a passing car. I frequently missed servicemen who come to the door, phone calls, and have nearly caught tea kettles on fire as I can’t hear them whistle. My wife was very concerned that if I traveled alone I wouldn’t be able to hear if there was an emergency such as fire alarms. We have no family where we live and in the past I was not able to answer calls when she needed me, which broke my heart. I wanted to be able to be freer to travel, be more independent and finally get some sleep when I was home alone. I knew I needed help identifying when the phone rang, people came to the door, and feeling relaxed enough to sleep knowing my companion would wake me if there was something happening in the house at night. I felt very constrained, and was too uncomfortable to go out alone for fear of missing critical sounds.
I believe God and the universe led us to Service Dogs, Inc., I really do. We watched a video on service animals and was surprised to find that there were hearing dogs. The video we watched was from SDI with Sheri presenting. We never knew that hearing dogs existed until that day. My wife went online to see if we qualified, and the rest is history. Thank goodness they are there!
I was very nervous. Was I qualified, was I ready? Did I have the skills? Would she (Haven) like me? Would we be a match? When I saw her, it was “love” at first sight. The trainers had to keep me focused on the discussion because I was so focused on her. I knew we would be great companions for each other. I talked constantly about her the whole way home and couldn’t wait for the team training to begin!
What an incredible organization. In a word “Awesome”! They were so helpful, always there for me and my questions. So friendly and encouraging! From the top through the entire organization quality, caring, and professional folks. Every experience was pleasant. From conversations with Sheri, to preparation & application with Janet, to the leadership with Al and Becky and our trainers Sarah and Taylor – it was an incredible, empowering journey. They went the extra mile for us as we live in the panhandle further away from SDI. They arranged an SDI alumni trainer Kheli Kitts living near Amarillo to do the in-home training and Al drove the 5 hours to bring Haven to us. We can’t thank them enough for everything they have done.
Haven is an incredibly well trained dog, so smart and a drive for learning. She’s a life companion, so important in my everyday activities. She alerts me to the phone, doors, alarms, and my name being called. She even alerts me to odd noises that she hasn’t been officially trained on such as forklift sounds at Lowe’s LOL. I am more mobile now, more social, and not as solitary because I know she will alert me to what is happening around me.
Haven is my safety blanket when I sleep, she is my warning device as she alerts me when someone enters the home or if the phone, or fire alarm goes off. She provides me comfort in helping
me hear people at the door or when the phone rings. My wife often travels for work and in the past I would not be able to sleep. When I am out at the mall she helps me find my wife if we get separated. My wife calls my name or I call hers Haven helps us find each other. We call her the Husband Retrieval Tool! In such a short period of time, Haven has become such a critical piece of my life!
Since getting Haven, I have gotten more attention for sure! I am happier and that combined with such a beautiful, dedicated animal, we get many questions and requests for a pet. I am more social and approachable when I am out with her. For one thing, she helps me see when folks are talking to me. I also take the training very seriously as I want to keep the positive view of service animals and SDI. I love telling folks our story and what sh
e has done for me. She has a special love for little ones, and they for her.
Haven is my piece of mind that I have not had in so long with my hearing loss. I am happier as I am more alert and more connected to my surroundings. She and I are best buddies and we both work to help each other.
Your gift is something that is not easy to put into words. Thank you with all my heart and know that your thoughtfulness has truly made a difference in my life. My life is more complete and I am sure if Haven could thank you she would too! While we write this my wife is tearing up. You have made a difference and we thank you.
To you and everyone supporting SDI, if you can, Please continue to give, and help someone else’s life be more complete!
Bill and Haven’s training was sponsored by Sally McIntosh and your gifts.