Hattie tells Jennifer WarsIng Hampton her oven timer is going off, when someone's at the door, when the phone's ringing, when her husband calls her name. Before the chocolate lab moved in, Jennifer didn't feel safe, living independently.
"I soon discvered it was like walking on eggshells," she remembers. "The worst thing was I never had a peacefull night of sleep living on my own because I never knew if the power would go out or if there was a fire would that smoke detector wake me up."
When Hattie came from Dogs for the Deaf six years ago everything changed. Jennifer says, "she gave me a second chance at life. Most people don't get that opportunity. Through her sound work I am now able to live in a world that was once silent, but it's not anymore."
Jennifer and Hattie enjoy sharing their journey together. They give presentations at local schools and to area organizations on how they work as a team. Hattie even has a Facebook page called "Hattie's Helpers." Third graders at Juniata Valley Elementary School coined the name after Jennifer and Hattie came by for a demonstration.
Journeys outside their home in Huntingdon are limited right now , except for trips to the veterinarian. Hattie's been diagnosed with irritable bowel disease, and severe kidney problems. She's even had surgery, which meant a stay at Metzger Animal Hospital in State College. It's the first time the two have ever been separated.
"And when I walked through the house, I knew she wasn't here to alert me to the phone ringing or the oven timer going off or if someone knocked at the door to visit. She's the ark of my world."
Hattie's doing pretty well now, but her prognosis is unpredictable, according to Veterinarian Dr. Mark Koshko. A diet and treatment that helps her bowel disease may aggravate her kidneys.
"She's going to need a lot of special care," Dr. Koshko says. "It's going to be from special diets to supplements that help the intestinal tract, to medication we need to treat the intestinal tract but we can't harm the kidneys in the same process."
Dogs for the Deaf has an emergency fund to cover some of Hattie's expenses but is accepting donations to replenish it so that its other service dogs can also receive help.
It's the kind of case that touches your heart," Dr. Koshko says. "We have pets we love that are family members, but for her it's just a different kind of attachment."
Jennifer says, "she's taken care of me for 6 years. "It's my time to give back and make sure she's well." Like all Dogs for the Deaf, Hattie came from a shelter. Dogs for the Deaf gets no government funding and depends on donations.
Hattie's Facebook Page
Dogs for the Deaf