Anthony's new faithful friend

Anthony Bond with his new Lions hearing dog Harrison, who arrived last week.

Anthony Bond with his new Lions hearing dog Harrison, who arrived last week.

It was an especially bad start to the year for Anthony Bond, of Merimbula after he lost his faithful friend and hearing dog of 12 years Lily, to a snake bite.

Lily was about 14 years old and plans had recently been put in place to look at the possibility of having another hearing dog available for Anthony in the not too distant future but no one expected it to be this soon.

Like any serious relationship, the friendship between an owner and hearing dog is built up over time.

Luckily Harrison was in training and photos were able to be sent to Anthony who liked the look of the Cocker Spaniel, and it was subsequently arranged for Harrison to become Anthony's hearing dog.

This means Harry - as he has become known - on hearing a knock at the door, will run to Anthony, put both paws on him to tell him there's a sound. Harry will then lead Anthony to the sound.

If a smoke alarm were to go off Harry would again find the source of the sound and drop down to the ground in a warning signal for Anthony.

Nick Liemandt is a trainer at the Lions Hearing Dog Centre in Adelaide and trained Harrison. He brought him to Merimbula and helped to get Harrison attached to Anthony rather than himself.

Support Group: Support workers Kyrsten Bell and Chloe Peck, Lions Hearing Dog Centre trainer Nick Liemandt, Lions members Ric Vanderbom, Tracy Fleming and Vicki Bond with Anthony Bond and Harry.

Support Group: Support workers Kyrsten Bell and Chloe Peck, Lions Hearing Dog Centre trainer Nick Liemandt, Lions members Ric Vanderbom, Tracy Fleming and Vicki Bond with Anthony Bond and Harry.

"It takes about five to seven months to train, depending on the dog. In the past we've always sourced them from pounds and shelters but now we've also started using puppies," Nick said.

The puppies are put with a foster carer and they get to shape the puppies earlier on and teach them skills prior to the start of training.

"Training starts from age six months to two years, although foster puppies come in at eight months," Nick said.

Harry will go into shops because he has public access rights and part of his training was to ensure he could handle different and noisy environments.

"Often people with a hearing loss can isolate themselves but having a dog means you have to go out for a walk; it's beneficial at a social level," Nick said.

It's that social side that isn't lost on Anthony who said he and Harry got on straight away.

"We've been out to Woolies, had coffee and been to the beach; he's a happy dog," Anthony said.

The Lions Hearing Dog Centre has been running for 40 years this year and has delivered over 600 dogs.

Lily was the first hearing dog in Merimbula but last year was joined by Brody who listens out for Anthony's mum, Vicki Bond.

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