Thanks to the Daily Yomiuri Online for this article.
Abandoned dogs set to serve deaf
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Tokyo-based nonprofit organization will open a facility Friday in Yokohama to train abandoned dogs to become service dogs for the deaf, and use socially isolated young people cocooned at home to become hearing dog trainers.
Service dogs for the deaf assist the daily lives of the hearing impaired by such actions as informing caretakers about ringing doorbells and fire alarms.
Large breeds such as Labrador retrievers are most suitable as guide dogs for the blind. However, because dogs to assist the deaf are usually employed indoors, smaller breeds are preferable. Even so, any breed can be trained for the purpose.
According to the Guide Dog and Service Dog Association of Japan, which will launch the training facility Friday, only 18 service dogs for the deaf were in service nationwide as of the end of March. This was only five more than when the law concerning dogs to assist the disabled came into force five years ago.
However, the association believes about 10,000 hearing-impaired people nationwide are hoping to be assigned a hearing dog.
The new training school, named Asunaro Gakko, follows the opening of similar ones in South Korea and the United States, to train young people who want to become hearing dog trainers.
The 30 million yen fee to build the school building and the annual operation costs are being covered by Samsung Japan Corp.
Students at the school will reside at the school dormitory while undergoing a six-month course from April to September or October to March. The school plans to accept five male students between 18 and about 30 for each period and require them to study dog training techniques by actually working with a dog for three hours daily.
The school envisions up to 10 guide dogs for the deaf will be trained annually.
The first students will enroll on next Thursday.
The first three dogs to be trained at the school were abandoned animals provided by local governments who otherwise would have destroyed them. The dogs’ tame nature made them suitable candidates for hearing dog training, according to the society.