August 20, 2011
HIRAI Keiko (32), a hearing resident in Nara City, was surprised to know about the service dog through the television program when she was a company employee ten years ago. "The dog was very good at doing these kind of things".
She determined to become a trainer, partly influenced by her father who hardly walked because of a disability.
She has been training the service dogs including the hearing dog at an incorporated nonprofit organization called the "Japan Support Dogs Society" located in Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture since 2005 so that these dogs might become a partner for a person with disability.
Keiko explained, "The service dog works with pleasure while it is not easy for a person with disability to ask even the family member to do something for him/her. The user, with a service dog, enjoys going out and not only feels happy, but also the chance of social participation increases".
It takes 1 or 2 years to train by the aim of passing the service dogs qualifying examination. When training continues repeatedly, Keiko said, "The dog learns what the user needs by thinking and do something that is not taught". She feels pleasure in the relationship: "the dog and the user can communicate by heart, event though without a word".
She has trained two service dogs, and is currently training a Toy Poodle (one years old and male) as a hearing dog. She is working hard at training it to wake up the Deaf user asleep immediately after it hears the sound of the alarm clock, etc.
On the other hand, service dogs and hearing dogs are often refused to enter the public space such as the restaurant and the supermarket, etc. as not many people acknowledge compared to the guide dog for the person who is visually impaired. Keiko hopes the society will naturally accept all these dogs serving the persons with disabilities some day.