Train Charlie to Help Jake Hear

Our son, Jacob was diagnosed at birth in 2009 with hearing loss. When he failed the newborn hearing screening twice, they said there was a possibility of him being completely deaf. From as little as 1 month of age, Jacob has been closely followed by Audiologists and E.N.T Doctors including exams and tests that have become a regular part of our little boy's life.

By 6 months, he was diagnosed with Sensorineural and Mixed Conductive hearing loss. The audiologist described his hearing loss as a "Cookie Bite," where he would hear high pitch, loud and low deep tones, but mid-range sounds would be missing from his life, if remained unaided. Mid-range includes sounds that we often take for granted: Birds chirping, the sound of rain, water running, the wind, normal conversations, certain pronunciations of letters: th, ing, ch, and so on. The way he hears to us would be like a poor cell phone connection. Thankfully, hearing aids would help him pick up the missing sounds.

Jacob has been wearing hearing aids since 6 months of age. And while for some time there, he didn't want to wear them, we struggled to keep them in. Around the age of 4, he realized that he needed them in and practically sleeps with them on, so he won't miss out on anything.

Jacob recently (as of April 2014), went to the Audiologist for his regular testing, this was the 3rd visit over the past couple months, because Jacob was not passing the regular tests. The result of this test concluded that Jacob's hearing had become worse. The Audiologists think that Jacob may possibly have something called Audio Neuropathy/Auditory Dys-synchrony Disease. They explained it as being a "loose wire." Some days he has good hearing, while the next day, he may have bad hearing. Which explained a lot as to why it seemed like he couldn't hear us at times! They want to perform an M.R.I. to confirm, which will take place within the next month or so (fingers crossed). But they are pretty sure this is his issue. There is something wrong with the nerves in his ear not connecting with the brain. Some days he will hear words clearly and other days we sound like the adults from the peanuts cartoons. On Jacob's bad days, his hearing aids will do him no good. But he will continue to wear them, for the moments when his hearing is good. But we will never know right away, what his hearing will be like for the day. Surgery will never correct the hearing loss he has. 

God has been so good to us in the 5 years that Jacob has been in our lives. With everything the little boy has been through, he is amazingly tough! He has been through genetic testing, autism testing, speech therapy and so much more. And he is severly delayed in speech, so he cannot communicate with us clearly! Which we have seen a lot of frustration in him due to his inability to articulate. But through his frustration, he always has a smile. His current preschool teacher refers to him as Mr. Happy!  

Charlie came into our lives about a month ago. No one wanted him due to his allergies. Typically a puppy like Charlie sells for around $600.00 or more due to his breed. Charlie was born on January 27th, 2014 and is a purebred Fox Red Labrador. Opportunity and God pulled John aside at work and Charlie was introduced to him. John brought him home and I thought he was joking because we had just recently talked about getting a service dog for Jacob. From day 1, Charlie has followed Jacob everywhere. It's almost like Charlie is aware of Jake's disability. I forgot to mention that we did not pay for Charlie, he was given to us for the simple fact of the possibility of being a service dog for our son. And I was confident I could clear up his allergies with a little patience and time. Within a few days of fresh air, clean water, a good bath and a overhaul on his diet, his allergy symptoms went away. And now we have a normal pup!

Our reason for needing a service dog for Jacob is so that Jake has a stable pair of working ears. Charlie will be trained to hear for Jacob. I started researching local service dogs organizations and training. I came across K-9 Companions out of Corona, California. I contacted them almost immediately and set up an appointment to bring Charlie in to meet them and get an evaluation to see if Charlie is a good match to be Jacob's service dog. Charlie is playful at times but he is very passive. We got him in for an appointment at the beginning of May. The trainer could not believe his passiveness at such a young age. She declared that Charlie would be the perfect candidate to go through their service dog training. We were so excited to hear this.

There are 4 sessions that the puppy will go through to become an official service dog for Jake. Sessions 1-3 will be puppy service dog obedience followed by session 4 which will focus on him filling Jake's hearing need. Each session is 6 weeks long and 1 day every week, so we will be driving Jacob and Charlie to Corona once a week, every Saturday, so that the boys will be trained to work together as a hearing team. ;) After his 2nd session is complete, Charlie will have to pass a Canine Good Citizen test. Once he passes, he will be able to go with us everywhere! He will wear a service dog vest and begin his duty as a service dog, although he wont be certified. Once he is done with all of his training, he will be licensed and nationally registered as a service dog. We can't be more blessed with the possibility of this amazing puppy to be trained to help our son and his needs!

Each session is $500.00. That doesn't include everything else covered with the puppy and gas to get out there. But we are so thankful with anything you can donate, to at least help us secure these sessions to train Charlie. Our son loves his doggie and this doggie has so much potential to be a lifeline for our son. We need to raise at least $500.00 by the 2nd week of June, so that we can start the 1st session. And with my hours getting cut back at work, we can't work enough to raise money by then and continue to provide the everyday needs of our family. We have faith that God will provide! He always does.

We can't thank you enough! Our son is a blessing from God. And we know God brought Charlie into Jake's life to help him through the difficult years ahead.

Gob bless you all!
Kristi, John and kids


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Kristi Floto-Ranabauer 
Oak Glen, CA
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