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Bloomingdale Hearing Loss Advocate to Speak Saturday

Cynthia Moynihan and her hearing dog Larue will be the guest speakers at a presentation at Advanced Diagnostic and Hearing Solutions in Brandon.

Residents will have a chance to learn more about hearing loss, hearing aids and the hearing dogs now used to assist those with hearing loss when Advanced Diagnostic and Hearing Solutions at 522 Oakfield Dr., Brandon, hosts a presentation Saturday, May 5, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Bloomingdale East resident and hearing loss advocate Cynthia Moynihan and her hearing dog Larue will be on hand to answer questions about hearing dogs as well as the impact of hearing loss on family and friends.

"We want to raise the level of awareness about hearing loss," said Moynihan. "Hearing loss is becoming a serious issue in the United States. One in three teenagers now have hearing loss."

Also on hand for the presentation will be audiologist Dr. Lisa Tanner and Scott Rinehart of Cochlear Americas, the world leader in hearing solutions, who will talk about the newest technology to help those with hearing loss.

"Our hearing team will talk about hearing loss and the impact on the family," said Moynihan. "I'm seeing a real need to help family members and friends impacted by the hearing loss."

She will also discuss how to apply for a hearing dog through the national nonprofit, Canine Companions for Independence.

Moynihan was born with a hereditary hearing loss that wasn't diagnosed until she was in the third grade. Her condition worsened as she grew older. Today, the mother of two depends on hearing aids to hear.

She said she resisted getting a hearing dog through Canine Companions for Independence because she always felt there was someone worse off than herself who needed a dog more.

"My dear friend and audiologist Lisa Tanner was pushing me for several years to get a dog. But I was concerned. I thought I'd be taking away from someone who needed a dog," she said. "Little did I know how badly I needed a dog.

"I can't tell you what she's meant to me," said Moynihan. "She has brought unfound freedom to me I can't put into words."

About CCI

CCI provides hearing and service dogs to people with a variety of disabilities free of charge.

The puppies destined to be hearing or service dogs are handed over to volunteers to raise for 15 months where they learn basic commands. Then the dogs return to CCI where they undergo more intense training to become a service dog or hearing dog.

"To qualify for a hearing or service dog, you fill out an initial application online, then submit paperwork, answering questions about your lifestyle, family and environment," said Moynihan. Next comes a phone interview followed by a face-to-face interview at a CCI campus where the applicant is able to interact with a dog.

"Then you're put on a waiting list," said Moynihan. "It takes a year and a half on the average to get a dog."

Moynihan then flew to the CCI campus in Santa Rosa, CA, to undergo two weeks of training before receiving her hearing dog, Larue, last September.

"We went through some pretty intense training for two weeks, and then they had a graduation. There were six people in my class and I was chosen to be the guest speaker at the graduation, which was a great privilege."

Moynihan also had a chance to meet the family that raised her Labrador and golden retriever mix.

Moynihan said the dog has given her a degree of freedom she didn't have before.

"When I first got home, I was taking a shower and I didn't have my hearing aids in," recalled Moynihan. "Larue came into the bathroom and alerted me that the phone was ringing by nudging me. I got so teary eyed, I forgot to answer the phone. It was a huge moment for me."

In addition to alerting Moynihan to a ringing telephone, the dog lets her know when the doorbell rings, when her children are calling for her, even when the smoke alarm sounds.

But, even more important to Moynihan, the dog helps bridge the gap between Moynihan and the public.

"Before, when I was out in public, I would have people who would talk to me and think I was being unkind because I wouldn't respond," she said. "Larue has a lead that reads "Hearing Dog" and lets people know I can't hear them. In fact, more people attempt to talk to me because of the dog."

Living with Larue has proved such a rewarding experience for Moynihan, she's now helping others needing service dogs.

Residents can find out more about Larue at the presentation Saturday. There also will be refreshments and coupons for free hearing screenings.

For more information, call 813-315-9850.

Heike House May 03, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I have never heard of a hearing dog before. This is an interesting article. I would have liked to read a bit more about what other things such a dog can do for a hearing-impaired person, aside from alerting someone of a phone or doorbell ringing. It's always good to learn new things.
HearingAids May 03, 2012 at 02:50 PM
As a hearing health care professional in Toronto's Hearing Aid Central, I think this is an amazing thing. More people need to know about the importance and significance of hearing loss. Workshops and education seminars like these are greatly need to educate people and break the stigma of what people think hearing loss and hearing aids is about.
Pete May 04, 2012 at 02:05 AM
This lady has remarkable stamina to handle her family responsibilities along with pursuing the long path to receiving her dog. Absolutely remarkable. But then again, I am her father.
Gail Kopcsak May 05, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Words cannot express the courage Cynthia has shown by accepting her loss, bringing Larue on board to support her and then immediately moving on to helping others to see the whole picture of being deaf, self esteem of self, self esteem of family, fitting into the community. She did not sit back and rest with this is great, "I have my dog", she is reaching out to everyone that is experiencing the world of the deaf; children, husbands, wives, friends, associates, community, parents, the world. An inspiration to everyone that has a situation that does not fit the "norm". We all need to be more aware and with people like Cynthia this will happen. She is defintitely moving forward and she will bring the community with her.
C. Moynihan May 06, 2012 at 03:37 AM
What a wonderful gift...to have a special story shared with others and such kind comments. It is a true blessing! Hearing loss/hearing dog presentation was a success and thank you to those who came. For those who may have missed out, we hope to see you soon! We are well on our way to educating other and helping people with a hearing loss as well as their family and friends to work together.....just as my family and friends have and continue to do for me. Thank you.
C. Moynihan May 07, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Please check out cci.org about hearing dogs and the profound impact they have on those with hearing loss!
Sarah Kopcsak May 11, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Being out of town recently, I am late coming to this dialogue but want to add my voice in praise and admiration for the courage and generosity that Cynthia has lived and modeled for others all her adult life. Knowing her now for over 25 years I am not surprised that she would reach out to help and serve others dealing with life's challenges and although it is her nature it never ceases to inspire and support me to live my life with courage and a fully open heart. Thank you, Cynthia!

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