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In April of 2021, Liz was celebrating her birthday. Little did she know, on that very day a special puppy was being born that would change her life for the better. His name was Barley.

Liz had not heard of a Hearing Assistance Dog before. The thought never crossed her mind, until she and her son were talking about issues she was experiencing with her hearing loss. Her son said, “wouldn’t it be great if there was such a thing as a ‘hearing dog’”? Liz decided to do a quick internet search. She found Dogs for Better Lives (DBL) and eagerly applied to receive a Certified Hearing Dog.

Barley’s Journey

Barley joined DBL at 8 weeks of age from the ABC Breeding Cooperative, along with three of his siblings. He headed up to the Seattle metro area where his Puppy Raiser, Savannah, helped him learn basic obedience and expose him to a multitude of surroundings. In her care, Barley passed Canine Good Citizen test—an achievement that reflects both his innate abilities and Savannah’s diligent efforts.

In June of 2022, Barley began his professional training at Dogs for Better Lives with Assistance Dog Trainer, Dana. His impeccable behavior during his training period was noted by all the training and kennel staff. He was frequently used with dog introductions and became best buddies with several other dogs in training. Throughout his time in training, he worked hard to learn how to effectively alert people to sounds in the training apartment.

Once his training as a Certified Hearing Dog was complete, Liz was identified from our waitlist as a great fit for Barley. “I was so happy when I was notified that he was available for me! I had assumed the wait would be a lot longer.”

“As soon as I saw his picture, I fell in love with him! Barley is so handsome, and his eyes – swoon!”

Liz and Barley pose at their 1 year follow-up visit

Barley & Liz

The day Liz met Barley was unforgettable for her. “I looked down the sidewalk and here comes this gorgeous dog along with DBL’s Field Rep Laura walking towards me. Barley’s face lit up as he got closer, and my heart was instantly taken by him. He seemed to know I was his new person! Then, I found out that we share a birthday! I just knew we were supposed to be a team!”

Barley has been instrumental in the home, alerting Liz to the Alexa timer, cell phone, smoke alarm, and door knock. Out in public, Barley helps her feel more aware of her surroundings and acts as a social bridge.

Before Barley, when Liz was out and about for work or for fun, she would not hear if someone would walk up behind her and was constantly being startled. “I eventually stopped going out in public for my own safety pretty much.”

Field Rep, Laura, noticed this firsthand when visiting Liz and Barley for their one-year follow-up. “Liz seemed so nervous going out in public during placement. Not anymore! Her confidence being in public has increased, and she has definitely gotten out more with Barley at her side,” said Laura. “During a neighborhood walk we stopped and talked to three different people. Barley is loved by all that he meets.”

Barley poses for the camera while on a road trip with Liz.

Last August, Liz had knee replacement surgery and as part of the at home treatment she had to use a little machine that emits electrical pulses starting from gradual to more intense to her knee. This has a very small sound when the timer is up. One morning while Liz was doing her home treatment, she realized she had forgotten to set the Alexa timer during her session. The machine timer went off, but she didn’t hear it. “Suddenly there was Barley, letting me know it was done! I never taught him to do this. He just figured it out!” said Liz.

When asked about her experiences with DBL and Barley, Liz was clear that Barley has changed her life. “If my son and I had not had that conversation, I probably would be in the same state today. Fearful to go out in public and always on edge.”

“Barley has changed this sense of fear and I feel that I am gradually gaining back my self-confidence. I am so grateful to have Barley in my life!” said Liz.



Would you or someone you care about benefit from a Hearing Assistance Dog? Visit dogsforbetterlives.org/hearing-dogs to learn more about their work, and apply.

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