Sound the Alarm

Young woman lying down on the grass with her hearing dogThere are many tools that assist people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to avoid missing important sounds – but none quite as effective as help from an expertly trained service dog, like Hanalei.

Makenzie McGuire has been profoundly deaf her whole life, using cochlear implants and lip reading to communicate with the world around her. While able to rely on these tools, she still didn’t feel fully independent. Her cochlear implants must be removed when sleeping or showering, leaving her with no ability to hear sound.

“I tried every type of vibrating and flashing alarm clock,” Makenzie says. “The alarm would shake my entire bed, yet it still wouldn’t wake me up. I had to rely on my parents to wake me up every morning and depend on everyone else around me.”

Six years ago, Makenzie was matched with Canine Companions Service Dog Hanalei, trained to physically nudge her to alert her to alarm clocks, fire alarms, knocks on doors and more. Since Hanalei joined her life, she no longer relies on another person to wake up or feel safe. Even Hanalei’s body language helps her be aware of her surroundings.

“Hanalei proved quickly that I could trust her with my life,” Makenzie says. She recalls one evening when she was showering: Hanalei alerted her to a smoke detector going off. “It was three floors down, but Hanalei was right there to let me know. No matter what, I feel safe when she’s around.”

Recently, Makenzie and Hanalei took on a new job – one in which Hanalei helps her immensely – as the caretaker for Canine Companions South Central Training Center. Hanalei not only lets her know when to wake up for work; she also alerts her when a client is calling her name or knocking on her door, as well as when fire alarms are going off in the dormitory.

“Hanalei not only helps keep me safe and aware,” says Makenzie. “She also keeps the students in Team Training safe, too.”