Don is smart, very smart. Sometimes he's so smart that he confuses himself. Although he's an ADL dog, I was given lessons on how to train him to do anything I want him to do. Anything within reason that is. I have to use common sense to make sure he and I stay safe. You can't turn an ADL dog into a guide dog. However, after a conversation with our trainer I was allowed to give him some tasks that an ADL dog doesn't usually do. This is what we call signal work. Usually the task of a hearing dog.
I have a small ammount of hearing loss, but this isn't the reason I wanted Don to signal sounds. I wanted him to signal my alarm clock so that the interaction with him would make my brain wake up quicker.
The better he became at signalling the alarm clock, the more he started to signal other sounds that sounded like an alarm. I decided to encourage this behaviour. You never know when it could be useful.
Alarms are not predictable. So when three alarms go off at once and if both me and my house mate are home at the same time, Don's smartness gets the better of him.
It was the day that NL-Alert would send a test message at the same time as the test for the air alarm. First the air alarm started making noise, then my phone, followed by my house mate’s phone. As Don jumped off the couch, you could almost see what he was thinking. Before he could come to me to signal the air alarm, he stopped to process the sound my phone was making. Realising that was also an alarm, he came towards me to signal. At the same time, my house mate’s phone started making the same noise. He started walking in circles. ‘Which noise should I signal first, and who should I signal’? He was confused.
Being the smart boy he is, he sat down in the middle of the floor and took a moment to think. His logic apparently works backwards, as he chose to signal the last sound first. He walked over to my house mate and put his front paws in her lap. After hearing his reward word, he walked over to me and put his paws in my lap. That earned him a lot of cookies. He was very happy with himself.
The air alarm is something I can only hear if the house is silent at the time it goes off. I miss it a lot due to the tv or radio. So it’s now become part of Don’s training. Not only do I randomy let my alarm clock go off, I also make use of YouTube videos that demonstrate the air alarm.
As I always say on Social Media; #NotAHearingDog. However, he’s so smart that his signal work skills means he has the potential to be a hearing dog. He’s a service dog with many talents and luckily, he’s mine.