Sunday, October 17, 2004


When you go Online, it is like entering a portal to the world. It is wonderful to think that, with the click of a mouse, we can visit any place we want to explore, whether it is past history or present reality. And this page is a new realm for me to create, a new country, Hermaland, where I can drift back into my childhood or reach out into the future. It is a window into my mind, where all of my experiences, all of my opinions and reactions can be expressed.

First, I want to tell you about the intricacies of Hearing Loss and its effect on my life. Because I lost the hearing in one ear when I was just ten years old, after a severe case of Strep Throat, I learned to adjust to a world where half of what was said was forever lost to me. As children do, I adjusted, learned to read lips, and made do.

As the years passed, more and more of my hearing began to fade away. I couldn't hear the telephone ring, even though, with the Volume turned high, I could carry on a conversation via telephone. I couldn't hear alarm clocks, knocks on the door, Smoke Alarms, or any of the bells and buzzers everyone else takes for granted.

I invested in all manner of loud bells and flashing lights. But I seem to fall into a deep, unconscious sleep at night that can ignore any amount of commotion. That is, until Jedi entered my life.

Jedi is a little black 25 pound mutt. She was rescued from a pound in Florida by a PAWS volunteer who hunts for "puppies with possibilities". She was brought up to Michigan to Wayland, where PAWS has a large, spacious training facility. Most PAWS dogs are placed with Foster Families for a year, where they are toilet trained and taught to be well-behaved members of society. Jedi had no Foster Family, but was kept in the Wayland training facility. And it is obvious that the Kennel Master was a Star Wars fan. He name her and decorated her "crate" with all sorts of Star Wars paraphernalia.

When she was about a year old, the trainers began working with her. She had about five trainers, some for sound, some for behavior. It is hard, grueling work. Each lesson has to be repeated over and over, until the dog in training understands and obeys. Plus, the dogs have to be physically fit and their temperaments have to be able to cope with society. No snarling animals at PAWS. Jedi is highly social and loves attention. She is in love with the world.

But the training of a Hearing Ear Dog does not end when she finally meets "the person". Her training goes on constantly, and she is given a yearly test, in order to qualify for her registration and the right to wear that orange and blue jacket. After I traveled to Wayland, MI, with my son, Kevin, to meet Jedi, a trainer, Renee, came to my home for several weeks, helping me learn to handle her.

PAWS has an office in Orion Township, MI, under the direction of Lynn Hoekstra. The people at PAWS have been a source of continual support and comfort to me as I learned to live with this furry companion.

I could not have afforded the $7,000 a Hearing Ear Dog costs. Thankfully, no person pays for their Hearing Dog or their Service Dog. Such charities as United Way donate the funds and make it possible for these dogs to help the handicapped.

In my case, the students of Blanche Sims Elementary School in Lake Orion, MI, held a reading marathon and collected the money for Jedi. I owe those children a debt of gratitude and take Jedi back to Blanche Sims at every opportunity.

How does she help me? When the phone rings, she comes to get me. When the alarm clock goes off, that wet little nose is nuzzling me. When the Smoke Alarm goes off (her favorite), she leaps on me and together, we dash for the door.

Usually, it is only possible for me to test Jedi on the smoke alarm when I am cooking. As I go about my culinary skills, which never were anything to brag about, the smoke and steam from the pots and pans usually sets off my highly-sensitive smoke alarm. So far, Jedi has saved my life when I have been frying chicken. She has saved my life when I have been cooking pork chops. She has saved my life as the bacon fries.

But, I'm not complaining. I know that if, in the middle of some dark night, that alarm goes off, Jedi will be right there, leaping atop me as I snooze. It enables me to stop worrying and sleep soundly.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Herma! I love your page- and loved hearing all about Jedi! This thing makes me post as Anonymous, since I don't have a username or something- but its me, Patty!

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Herma,
I loved your picture of Jedi, She is a cutie.
You couldnt ask for a better guardian angel than Jedi.

Good work on your blog page Herma, you should be so proud of your grandson.

Oh I had to sign in as anonymous too. I dont have a user name or pass word for this.

11:26 PM  

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