Busselton’s Kylie Hutton believes having an Australian Lions Hearing Dog by her side will restore her shattered confidence.
Ms Hutton began to lose her hearing at 18.
By 23, she had lost 40 per cent of hearing in her right ear and 50 per cent in her left. Her hearing has gradually declined since.
She was recently gifted her new companion, Baxter the black Labrador, from the Lions Clubs of Australia.
Baxter has spent six months training at the national headquarters in South Australia at a cost of $35,000.
The Lions Club of Busselton Inc sponsored Baxter’s delivery.
Ms Hutton, who has three children and runs a business with her husband Derek, said as her hearing deteriorated, so did her confidence.
“Going out to the shops has been too difficult,” she said.
“Shopping centre car parks are a game of Russian roulette. I wouldn’t know if people were behind me and I’d step back on them.
“People would be talking to me and I wouldn’t hear them and they would think I was rude.
“In social settings, lip reading became exhausting and too hard.”
She said Baxter would be an amazing support.
“I couldn’t be happier,” she said.
“You don’t realise until you lose your hearing just what you use it for on a daily basis.
“I’ve basically been a total recluse for two years so this is life changing.
“My confidence will grow and having Baxter will help me get back in to the community.”
Baxter, in his bright orange jacket, has public access rights and can accompany Ms Hutton into public places.
He is trained to alert Ms Hutton to normal household sounds such as a telephone ringing, an alarm clock, a doorbell or knocking and children crying as well as environmental sounds when out in public.
Australian Lions Hearing Dog trainer Bella Pearson travelled to Busselton to train Ms Hutton and Busselton Lions, who will assist with the transition.
Ms Hutton thanked the Lions Club of Busselton Inc for their support.
“They have been a wonderful help throughout this whole process,” she said.
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