Hearing dog Kurt is boy’s best friend

DO-GOOD DOG -- mum Louise Cheung with hearing dog Kurt and pupils at Forest Town Primary School.
DO-GOOD DOG -- mum Louise Cheung with hearing dog Kurt and pupils at Forest Town Primary School.

The valuable work carried out by hearing dogs is being barked from the rooftops of the Cheung household in Tibshelf.

For the help given by cuddly labrador Kurt to deaf schoolboy James Cheung (14) has been hailed as “incredible” by his mum, Louise.

Now she is helping to spread the word about the Hearing Dogs For Deaf People charity by visiting local schools and other organisations.

Her latest visit was to the Tree House nurture group at Forest Town Primary School in Mansfield, where the children were fascinated to meet five-year-old Kurt and hear how he has transformed James’s life.

“He keeps James company and gives him confidence,” said Louise, of Staffa Drive. “He is even trained to wake him up in the mornings and alert him if the smoke alarm goes off -- things that we take for granted.

“When James takes his hearing-aid out and goes to bed at night, he’s in dark isolation, which can’t be pleasant for him. But Kurt sleeps with him in his bedroom.

“The amount of benefit he has brought to James has been incredible, and he is a huge reassurance to me as well.”

The Cheungs acquired Kurt from the hearing dogs charity about five years ago. He will stay with them until he retires at the age of 11.

“We had to go through a process to match James’s personality with the right dog,” explained Louise. “And then there was intensive training to ensure that Kurt could do the things James liked doing, such as going to the cinema.

“I look after Kurt while James is at school. But when James gets home, Kurt is back on duty.”

James is one of only a handful of children in the entire country to benefit from a hearing dog. They have been to Crufts together and have even met the last Prime Minister, David Cameron.