After almost four years of volunteering at the Central Point facility, Hughes wanted a comfortable spot or two for volunteers to enjoy the serenity of the open spaces of DFD. Vistas with the Table Rocks, Mount McLoughlin, Roxy Ann Peak and the Rogue River Ranch give a spiritual feeling, said Hughes.
With financial help from Fire District 4 and the FD4 Support Group and physical labor from Chief Bob Miller and Volunteer Firefighters Eric Mattson and Stu Frazier, Hughes installed two comfortable benches. Located away from the main building, the dominant sound while sitting on either bench is of singing insects with maybe the cry of an occasional red-tailed hawk circling overhead. It is a place to take a break when walking the dogs.
DFD was founded 32 years ago by Roy Kabat, a Hollywood and circus animal trainer, said Hughes. The primary focus is to rescue homeless dogs from shelters in Oregon, Washington and California and then professionally train them to alert the hearing impaired to sounds of fire alarms, ringing phones and more. An expanded program now includes Autism Dogs for children and families with autism.
About 100 dogs are placed annually with over 3,000 placements since 1977. Each dog costs $25,000 from the shelter to placement with a hearing impaired person, said Hughes. (Other than an application fee of $50, dogs are placed free.) The non-profit DFD operates entirely on donations from faithful individuals, service clubs, businesses, bequests and corporate matching gifts. An expansion of the facility, not yet completed, was also made possible through donations.
Some dogs do not complete the hearing dog training but still make wonderful pets. These “Career Change” dogs are available for adoption, according to DFD staff.
Volunteering at DFD is not the first niche for Hughes. She has been on the FD4 Board of Directors since 2005 and was just elected to a four-year term. And for six years from 1999 to 2005, Hughes and her husband Gary, a Shady Cove City Councilor, ran the ACCESS food pantry at St. Martin’s Church in Shady Cove.
For more information on Dogs for the Deaf call 826-9220 or email (email@example.com)The location is 10175 Wheeler Road, Central Point. Tours are offered daily.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent