The majority of the world assumes that everyone in it can see, hear and move without limitation but such assumptions may have fatal consequences. Bill Holtz was fortunate. Bill is almost totally deaf and is only able to hear with his hearing aids. However, people don’t wear hearing aids when they’re sleeping and the smoke detectors in most homes emit a piercing siren only for those that can hear them.
One night, Bill’s wife Rosemary was away and, while Bill slept, the carbon monoxide alarm in his home was triggered. Bill slept unaware of what was fortunately only a false alarm but, when his wife Rosemary returned to find him sleeping through it, both were made acutely aware of a challenge that his deafness presents.
Their solution is a highly-trained assistance dog named Ari provided to them by Summit Assistance Dogs based in Anacortes, WA. Summit spends a lot of time interviewing human beneficiaries and working with the people and the dogs to ensure that the ideal match is made. Bill waited 2 years before Ari was identified for him. As Bill says “I am sure it was easier to teach the dog how to be an assistant than it was to teach the person how to use the dog! The trainers at Summit are top notch and the time they spend helping us to learn and bond is priceless.”
Ari has become a backup for Bill’s ears and alerts Bill to sounds including the doorbell and particularly alarms. Rosemary jokes that amazingly Bill no longer even suffers from that well-known male failing of “selected deafness”; when she calls on Bill to complete chores, she knows that Ari will always tell Bill that she’s calling him. Rosemary is an insulin-dependent diabetic and Ari’s has been trained to retrieve Rosemary’s emergency glucose pack if she is unable to get it for herself.
As is often the case with assistance dogs, the assistance work that they do is only part of the benefit that they provide. Bill says that Ari is his friend as much as his assistant. They both enjoy exercising and playing together and Bill enjoys teaching Ari new things. Ari is a retriever who is happy to bring Bill anything that Bill asks for. Ari has brought joy and peace of mind to this retired couple too.