Big thank you from

Have you heard about the dog who helped save his owner?

Jester - in line for award.

Jester - in line for award.

A HEARING dog from Lisburn who raised the alarm after his owner suffered a shock when she was stung by a wasp could be set for a prestigious award after being shortlisted in a national competition.

Jester- a Golden Mongrel - could be on course to land the Heroic Hearing Dog of the Year accolade at the Hearing Dogs Awards 2011, which will be held in London in October.

Jester is the hearing dog of 39-year-old Samantha Maxwell and was shortlisted after alerting rail staff on a Lisburn-bound train that Samantha had been stung by a wasp and was suffering a severe reaction.

"At the hospital, the doctors were amazed by Jester's response, particularly as he had not
been trained for a situation such as this," explained Samantha.

"Before I had Jester, I had low self-esteem and my confidence and independence had gone. Since he arrived, I knew he would be the one to sort me out. He is such a clever dog and I am so proud to have him in my life."

The awards, which are supported by Specsavers Hearing Centres and Royal Canin, are coordinated by the national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and are held annually.

A celebrity judging panel of BBC One Show presenter Matt Baker, EastEnders actress Pam St Clement and TV vet Marc Abraham will later this month choose the national finalists who will be invited to attend the prestigious star-studded event in the City of London.

It is set to be a particularly memorable evening with many other famous faces including Esther Rantzen, TV presenter Rebecca Wilcox and Martin Roberts - star of the BBC's Homes and the Hammer. In total, around 300 specially invited guests are expected to attend.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People - which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year - train dogs to alert deaf people to specific household sounds and danger signals, whether in the home, workplace or in public buildings.

These sounds include the smoke alarm, doorbell, cooker timer, mobile phone text message and alarm clock. Hearing dogs also wear distinctive burgundy jackets when out in public as a clear indicator of their recipient's otherwise largely invisible disability.

Since its launch in 1982, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People have trained over 1,600 hearing dogs. Jester is one of 750 hearing dogs currently in operation across the UK bringing independence, confidence and security to deaf people.

Ulster Star