How a little dog has made a big difference to Bundy man
THEY say dogs are a man's best friend and this couldn't be more accurate for Bundaberg local David Eslick, whose little companion has saved his life.
After his hearing began to deteriorate, Mr Eslick never thought he would be able to live as he once had.
But thanks to the Australian Lions Hearing Dogs and a little Terrier cross with a heart of gold named Jake, Mr Eslick said he now feels like one of the luckiest people in the world.
"My family knew about my hearing being really bad, so they were going to purchase a poodle for me and try to get it trained to assist with my hearing," Mr Eslick said.
"But I ended up doing some research and found that the Lions Club already have a program like this running and after putting in some inquiries, they were able to assist me."
Sponsored by The Lions Club in Moore Park Beach, Jake is one of 621 dogs that the Australian Lions Hearing Dogs program has delivered since starting in 1982.
Training hearing dogs costs almost $40,000 but thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Lions Club, these sweet natured pups are gifted to recipients free of charge.
Just 15 months old, Jake has been training to be an assistance dog since he was a month old and will continue to for approximately six more months, when he will then be declared as a fully accredited assistance dog.
For Mr Eslick, Jake has already made a significant impact.
"I've got a life back … my friends and family will tell you that I go out and can't hear them, can't communicate with anyone and my partner can't be here all the time, so Jake has become my living mate... and we go everywhere together," Mr Eslick said.
"With the training that we've had in just over four days, we have been able to go to every shop in our local centre, he's been able to tell me if someone is talking behind me and he also notifies me when my phone rings.
"Terriers are great for this particular work because they are easy to train, very intelligent and just beautiful, resilient dogs."
Learning commands and training twice a day, Jake who is very alert, will assist Mr Eslick by informing him when environmental and household sounds go off, including the doorbell, phone, kitchen appliances and smoke alarms.
Assistance dogs who assist those who are deaf or hard of hearing, will identify the source of the sound by touching the owner with their two front paws or by touching and dropping to send a warning signal, ensuring someone does not enter a dangerous situation.
Many dogs selected to participate in the program are adopted from pounds or other rescue organisations.
The pair have already formed a close bond, with Mr Eslick confirming the love is mutual.