Natalie Regenscheid & Hearing Assist Dog Nadia
Natalie Regenscheid of St. Peter, Minn. was born with severe hearing loss, but she admits that over the years she’s had a hard time acknowledging she has a disability.
“I thought I was fine,” Natalie explains. “I’ve lived with this my entire life—I know how to take care of myself.”
It wasn’t until she lived on her own for the first time that she began to realize she might actually need help. At night, when she went to sleep and her hearing aids were out, she worried there might be an emergency and she wouldn’t even know it.
“If there was a tornado and a siren went off, I wouldn’t hear it,” Natalie says. “Or if the smoke alarm would go off, I wouldn’t hear that either.”
As Natalie prepared to graduate college and strike out on her own, her parents and her audiologist encouraged her to seek out help and suggested Can Do Canines. Natalie was not fully convinced. She worried an assistance dog might make others stare and she wouldn’t be able to live a normal life. After applying to Can Do Canines and being partnered with a Hearing Assist Dog named Nadia, however, she’s found that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Now that I have an assistance dog, I’ve realized it’s OK to have a disability. This is my reality, this is my life—who am I to try and hide it?” Natalia says. “And at least I get to bring my dog to work!”
The two-year-old black Labrador retriever accompanies Natalie everywhere, including both of her jobs as a personal trainer and a fitness instructor. Nadia alerts Natalie to the sounds she might miss by nudging her and leading her to its source—reconnecting her to the outside world. Natalie says that sometimes her assistance dog’s body language alone is helpful.
“We pick up on each other’s body language, so at work when I drop something, I know it. She’ll perk up, look at me and make eye contact. When I look back, she’ll have a look on her face like ‘ok, she knows she’s dropped something.’” Nathalia says.
Nadia helps Natalie feel safer, alerting her when someone is either approaching from behind or is at the door. She even alerts differently depending on who it is. Nadia will alert more enthusiastically if it’s someone she’s met before or more tentatively if it’s someone she hasn’t. Natalie feels confident to move into her own place now that Nadia is with her. She also feels safer at night. When an unfamiliar sound occurs Nadia will lie on top of her to let her know something out-of-the-ordinary has occurred. This is especially helpful when Nadia stays over at someone else’s house and is unaccustomed to her surroundings.
Natalie says that since Nadia came into her life, she is happier and has a more positive outlook on life. “I was really dark and negative, but Nadia is a good reminder. She’s content and just happy to be here with me. Who am I to complain?”
Natalie would like Nadia’s Puppy Raisers to know that she is grateful for all the hard work they did with Nadia. She’s also amazed at the goodwill of Can Do Canines’ donors and supporters, whose generosity brought Nadia to her.
“I think it’s amazing because dogs are expensive. I’m shocked that Can Do Canines would give Nadia away for free,” Natalie says.
Natalie is paying it forward by encouraging friends and family to support Can Do Canines so others can benefit as she has. She remains grateful to have received her Hearing Assist Dog who can now help her live a more independent life.