Adrian woman helped by hearing service dogHogan, a Shih Tzu, has been in home since June ADRIAN — Sherrilyn Klaassen may not be able to hear the alarm clock that sounds every morning inside her Adrian home, but her hearing service dog, Hogan, can.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
ADRIAN — Sherrilyn Klaassen may not be able to hear the alarm clock that sounds every morning inside her Adrian home, but her hearing service dog, Hogan, can.
The nearly two-year-old Shih Tzu mix climbs into Klaassen’s bed if she tries to catch “just one more minute” of sleep and starts licking the woman’s ear until she gets up.
It is just one of the many traits Hogan has when it comes to aiding his master.
Klaassen, who was diagnosed with a hearing impairment when she was five years old, received Hogan through the Hearing and Service Dogs of Minnesota program. She had to apply for a hearing service dog, complete an interview process and a home visit before being accepted to the program last April.
Hogan arrived untrained in June, and Klaassen received help from a couple of neighbor children throughout the summer to teach Hogan to respond to things like a knock on the door, a fire alarm, a storm or even an intruder. He then alerts Klaassen to the situation.
“(Hogan) gives me a security that I didn’t have before I had him,” said Klaassen. “I know that he will let me know if the phone is ringing, someone is at the door, (or) the smoke alarm is going off....
“The phone, door and alarm clock are the biggest ones he has helped me in,” she added.
Klaassen has hearing aids, but she often doesn’t wear them at home. She was fitted for her first hearing aid at 15, after doctors at the University of Minnesota discovered her hearing loss was the result of unexplained nerve damage. She was told the condition would progressively deteriorate.
Klaassen didn’t let the disability hamper her — she graduated from Ellsworth High School and Bemidji State University and now works two jobs — as the librarian at Adrian Elementary School, and as a dietary aide at the Sanford Adrian Care Center. Hogan goes with her to work each day.
“The students love having Hogan in the library,” she said, communicating via e-mail. “They enjoy seeing him and talking to him.”
Hogan must stay behind Klaassen’s library desk so as not to disturb or distract the students, which she said is sometimes a difficult task for the dog.
“Every once in a while Hogan will start crying as he wants to be with the kids and not behind the desk,” she said.
At the nursing home, Klaassen said residents also enjoy Hogan. He is kept in his carrier while Klaassen serves the meals, but he is allowed out when it’s time for the treats.
“When I deliver snacks in the evening, the residents ask for Hogan, rather than me,” she added.
Hogan is actually Klaassen’s second hearing service dog. She first had a poodle mix named Flash, who worked with her until his death in 1997 at age 16. She spent the next decade without a hearing service dog, but decided in late 2007 that it would be beneficial to have one again.
Since earning his certification as a hearing service dog, Hogan wears an official cape when he’s out and about with Klaassen to alert people to his hearing service status.
This is important because Klaassen has had some issues when taking the dog with her into local businesses. She was required to take him into stores as part of his training to earn his certification. Today, she carries a copy of Hogan’s certification with her in the event his hearing service cape isn’t enough proof for store clerks.
“Sometimes we are turned away in stores, despite Hogan clearly being marked as a service dog and (me) presenting the certification documents,” Klaassen said. “It would be nice if business owners and employees could be more accommodating to people with handicaps.”
Meredith Stanton Vaselaar of the Nobles County Review contributed to this article.