A WOMAN who has been profoundly deaf since birth has spoken of how her dog has totally transformed her life.
Jan Winter, from Burton, was given her faithful pooch by the charity Hearing Dogs For The Deaf more than three years ago, and said it had allowed her to find a new lease of life.
The 63-year-old retired graphic designer and nail technician said: “I have been profoundly deaf from birth, which means I have to wear two hearing aids.
“A few years ago I heard about the scheme run by the charity to breed and train dogs to provide special assistance to deaf people such as myself.
“I got Berrie three-and-a-half years ago after she had done her training, and I can say that she has totally transformed my life.
“I have two grown-up children and four grandchildren but I live alone, and before I got Berrie I must say that I felt quite isolated.
“I did go out, but because I was never sure what was going on around me I always felt very nervous.
“Now my life has changed so much and it’s all thanks to Berrie.
“At home she alerts me to the mobile or the landline phone ringing, alarms going off and even the cooker timer sounding.
“Outside, Berrie walks along beside me. She doesn’t have a harness like guide dogs for the blind, and is on a lead.
“But she does wear her special burgundy coat, which immediately lets people know that I have a hearing problem.
“The charity provides the dogs and their training completely free of charge and all the owner has to pay for is insurance and the cost of feeding them.
“After 11 years you are given the option of getting a younger dog and keeping the old one on as a pet.
“I’ll definitely be keeping Berrie when that time comes.”
Jan also said she had had her quality of life boosted thanks to specially adapted hearing aids from Specsavers.