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Issue 1 2014
AN APS member from RAAF Base Williams at
Laverton has had her lifestyle enriched by the gift
of a hearing dog from Werribee Lions Club.
Kathryn Prescott, library manager at Directorate
General Technical Airworthiness – ADF since 2007,
and a Defence member since 2000, has been deaf
She received Hops the Hearing Dog in June.
“We are used to one another now. It has been
many years since I had a dog, and they had
kennels outside so Hops having to sleep inside
was the main adjustment for me,” Kathryn says.
“Fortunately he is self-toilet trained, so I haven’t
had to worry about any accidents, and he is happy
to sleep in his basket in the living room. He’s pretty
When she first got Hops, Werribee Lions Club
members came over a few times a week to help
with the doorbell and smoke alarm, and to assess
him for accreditation.
“They gave up their valuable free time to
volunteer to come round to my house after work
hours and do the sounds that I can’t do,” Kathryn
says. “The smoke alarm is apparently the hardest
sound for dogs to respond to.”
With all other sounds the dog touches the owner
with both paws and then leads them to the sound,
but with the smoke alarm the response is different.
“The dog touches the owner and does not lead
them to the sound, because that’s where the fire
could be, and instead drops to the floor in front of
the owner,” Kathryn says.
“Hops struggled with that on occasion, but it’s
common among most hearing dogs for that to
After the first three months and an extra four
weeks of follow-up training with the smoke alarm,
Hops passed his accreditation.
“This isn’t a reflection of his ability, as he had a
rough start with being sick twice in the first couple
of months,” Kathryn says.
“Hops went very well during those last four weeks
and he is now accredited, which means he gets his
official Lions hearing dog collar. He is a registered
hearing dog, and now he is a registered accredited
Paula Morris, from the Aerospace Materiel
Systems Program Office (AMSPO), has been a
member of Werribee Lions Club for two years and
says the club sponsored Hops.
“Hops, a terrier cross, was trained to assist his
new owner in her day-to-day tasks,” Paula says.
“Many of Hops’ tasks are things we take for
granted such as the doorbell ringing or the oven
timer buzzing. He has been trained to listen and
alert his owner to any noises that would otherwise
be unheard by her.
“This has been an excellent project for our club to
undertake as it has improved quality of life for his
Paula says the cost of training a hearing dog is
“Our funds are raised by several means including
sausage sizzles, sales of Lions Christmas Cakes,
car parking for local events etc,” she says.
hear the call
A long-serving Defence employee at RAAF Base Williams is the proud owner
of Hops the Hearing Dog, thanks to the local Lions Club
Issue 1 2014
Hops was rescued from an animal shelter in South
Australia and trained for several months by former
Air Force member Darren Coldwell.
Darren, who was an Air Force dog handler from
1992 to 2000, has been training Lions hearing
dogs for 10 years.
He says there is nothing better than handing over
a dog to a new recipient.
“A dog makes them feel a little more secure in
their own home and they don’t have to worry
about missing visitors or phone calls,” he says.
“And it gives them a reason to go out, even if it’s
only a short walk around the block with the dog.”
The dogs are not selected by breed but are put
through a few simple tests at the pound. If they
meet the selection criteria they are adopted
and taken to a training facility where they are
quarantined for a short time.
Kathryn says the support she and Hops received
throughout the training process was invaluable.
“With service dogs there is liability, they must
behave in public so there is more responsibility on
them,” she says.
“That’s why every step of the training process
is rigorously checked to make sure the dog is
progressing as expected.
“I appreciate the Lions Club for their dedication
and commitment to this process in my case.”
Kathryn Prescott (right)
and Hops the Hearing
Dog with Werribee Lions
Club member Paula
Morris at RAAF Base
Photo: Able Seaman
By Sergeant Dave Morley
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