Tami Summer & Hearing Assist Dog Lola
Tami Summer always wanted a dog. But as a hairdresser in Alexandria, Minn. she likes to keep the hair where she works—not at home. So she tabled the idea. Then one day one of her clients told her about Can Do Canines assistance dogs. Since that moment Tami’s life has never been the same.
Tami from has Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that causes spontaneous episodes of vertigo along with fluctuating hearing loss, ringing in the ear and—on occasion—a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear. At age five, Tami began having hereditary hearing issues.
“It wasn’t as bad as a child but my hearing in my right ear crashed at age 18 and hasn’t returned,” she says.
Tami utilizes a CROS hearing aid system that transmits sounds coming into the right ear to the left side. She says it helps sometimes, but she still finds herself missing important sounds like the door bell and the telephone. The hardest sound for Tami to hear is the alarm clock. So she devised a temporary, yet ineffective solution.
“I have to rely on someone to get me up. If my husband won’t be around, I have to call my mother the night before. She calls repeatedly to wake me as I usually miss up to 10 phone calls.”
When she was clued in that a Can Do Canines assistance dog could alert her to sounds, she was intrigued. Even having a dog to perform one task—alerting her to the alarm clock—sounded appealing. So she applied to Can Do Canines and was paired with a three-year-old Hearing Assist Dog named Lola.
The black Labrador retriever does much more than just alert Tami to the alarm clock. She lets Tami know when there’s a knock at the door or the phone is ringing. According to Tami, “It improves my life 100%”. She’s so fast at alerting to sounds that Lola has even been given her own nickname, ‘Lola Lightning.’
“She was laying there the other night, just as relaxed as can be, and the timer went off on the grill,” Tami says. “Lola’s ears perked up and she jumped us so quick—I’ve never seen anything move that fast!”
Lola’s response time has come in handy. In fact, it may have helped avoid a disaster. One evening while cooking, Tami thought she’d step outside for a minute to see if it would be a clear night to watch a meteor shower.
“I learned something very valuable that night” Tami says. “Lola rocks! She alerted me to the smoke alarms going off, not just once, but twice, as I ran around the house opening the windows to get the smoke out.”
The coconut oil Tami had used to cook with had started to burn and her cooking pan had started on fire. The disaster was avoided, all thanks to Lola.
In addition to all her skills, Tami says Lola has brought “joy” and “fun” to her life. She says and that she and her husband now enjoy the outdoors more. They even had a fence installed so they could sit in the yard together and let Lola run free. Tami says, “I have a great companion to sit with me on the deck. She even helps outside by eating mosquitoes.”
When asked what she would like to tell Puppy Raisers and those who support Can Do Canines, Tami exclaims through tears, “Thank you for giving others something they can’t give themselves. I love my Lola Lightning!”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser—The Farrand Family
Long-term Foster Homes—The Inmate Handlers at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault