JUDY Mugavin’s eyes well up when she talks about the loss of her best friend, Sammy.
The 73-year-old farewelled the poodle, which had been her faithful companion and acted as her ears for the past decade, on August 10.
“He was more than my best friend, he was my baby,” Ms Mugavin said.
Sammy, which was 13 years old, was trained by Lions Hearing Dogs and had been unwell for six months.
He would alert Ms Mugavin when the doorbell or telephone rang and accompanied her wherever she went.
“When the doorbell rang he would go to the door, he would sniff under the door and then he would come and touch me and take me to the door,” Ms Mugavin said.
“I’d take him up the street and people would stop and talk to him. He went everywhere with me.”
Ms Mugavin, who suffers from bipolar disorder, said she felt more confident with Sammy by her side.
“If I was unhappy, I’d sit on the chair and he’d jump up on my knee,” she said.
Ms Mugavin is now on the waiting list for a replacement dog.
Lions Hearing Dogs chief executive officer Bill Holmes said the not-for-profit organisation had a dog in training which might be suitable for Ms Mugavin.
“When we are certain the dog we select is going to succeed, then we would send Judy some photos of the dog for her approval and at that time we would also give her a delivery date,” Mr Holmes said.
“A person who has already had a hearing dog is given a little bit higher priority because we know from experience how much they are missing that security.”
Mr Holmes said Ms Mugavin was expected to welcome a new dog in the next nine months.
He said the dogs were trained to alert their owner to sounds in the home.
The dogs could also be taught to alert another person when the owner needed their attention, he said.
Mr Holmes said owners formed a strong bond with the dogs.
“Our dogs are working dogs, like guide dogs for the blind, but the bond between the owner and the dog becomes very strong,” he said.
Lions Hearing Dogs was established 32 years ago and has delivered more than 500 dogs to people across Australia with a hearing impairment.