The International Hearing Dog Inc. has announced that Todd Satterfield, a single Pekin man with hearing loss, has been matched with hearing dog Jax. Jax, a lab mix rescued in June 2017 from Mexico, shows a sweet disposition, a playful demeanor, and an eagerness to please his human companion. On April 13, Jax and his trainers, Karissa Misik and Cierra Tramell, arrived at his new home in Pekin to meet his new partner who he will eventually serve as a hearing dog.

Every recipient’s hearing dog is a rescued shelter dog being given a second chance. Along with Jax, Hearing Dog Inc. has rescued over 1,300 dogs from shelters in Texas and New Mexico once they reached code red — meaning they only had a week until they’re euthanized. Hearing Dog Inc. believes that the most prosperous way to support the safety for people who are hearing impaired is through the teaching of Hearing Dogs. Living with hearing loss can be lonely, frustrating, and at times dangerous as more than 20 percent of Americans are affected by hearing loss. Satterfield received Jax for free. In order to train, place and care for each dog at Hearing Dog Inc. it costs $10,000.

“If you don’t know someone who is hard of hearing or you aren’t hard of hearing yourself, you don’t realize how isolating it can be,” said Misik, a Colorado hearing dog trainer. “It’s crazy how much these dogs change their recipients’ lives just by being around and being alert.” 

Satterfield’s previous hearing dog, Kao, passed away less than a year ago after serving him for 14 years. Not having a service dog left Satterfield in a difficult situation as the normal waiting period for a new hearing dog can take up to three years.

“I was worried I would have to wait ... to get another hearing dog,” Satterfield said. “So I’m excited that International Hearing Dog was able to match me with Jax in less than a year.”

Jax will now be able to assist Satterfield in things like going to a doctor’s appointment. Rather than writing down his own name, Satterfield will now be able to write down Jax’s, which, once Jax’s name is called, allows the dog to alert Satterfield that it’s time to see the doctor.

“Jax is a fun dog who really likes to play,” said Valerie Foss-Brugger, executive director of Hearing Dog Inc. “Although he can never replace Kao, we know that he will provide the same love, devotion, and, most importantly, safety and independence for his recipient.” 

Born deaf, Satterfield has had to use sign language his entire life in order to communicate with others. Sounds must reach over 100 decibels in intensity, equivalent to the sound of a tractor, before Satterfield is able to hear them. Jax will be a tremendous help to his new partner as these hearing dogs are trained for three basic sounds: door knocking, telephones and fire alarms. It takes approximately eight to 10 months to provide each dog with the training they need. Taking Jax out in public won’t be a problem for Satterfield as Jax has been thoroughly trained and socialized to not only be skilled, but professional, in any public situation with his hearing-impaired partner. Each dog at the Hearing Dog training facility located in Denver, Colo., is cared for and practices sound work. After a year of training, Jax will be right by Satterfield’s side to alert him and provide him with the safety he needs.

“Todd loves having a dog in general, because he’s a single guy in need of companionship and safety,” said Pam Satterfield, Todd’s mother. “Knowing that he’ll have Jax there to alert him if someone were to try and sneak up on him is important, especially in this day and age.”