Darlene Foster's Blog

Ears on Four Legs

Posted on: April 10, 2012

Olivia is a British Black Lab, and is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club as DGC (Dog Guide Canada) Lexis Olivia. This lively, friendly dog belongs to Gloria, a hearing impaired person who depends on Olivia for her safety, security, independence and companionship. Olivia is not her pet. She is a working dog, on shift 24/7, who takes her job seriously.  She is a Hearing Ear Dog.



Olivia has been partnered with Gloria for 6 years.  She came from the Dog Guide Canada school for dogs in Oakville, Ontario.  The dogs come from DGC’s own breeding program, the SPCA and individual dog donations.  They come in all shapes, sizes and breeds, to suit the needs of different individuals. They are all dependable, smart and loyal. The dogs go to foster homes when they are weaned from their mothers for about one year, and then return to the school for six months of intensive training to qualify to become a hearing ear dog. Approximately 25% of the dogs do not make it through the training but are found good homes as pets.  Those that do make it are honoured with a nice graduation ceremony. This is not the end of the training though, as it continues for their entire working life.

Hearing impaired individuals in need of a dog, are flown to the school from all over Canada to meet the dogs and find one that would be compatible. Gloria knew the minute she met Olivia that she was the one.  She then spent 18 days with Olivia, training together and getting to know one another, before they both returned to their home in Redcliff, Alberta.

Olivia gets up when Gloria does and stays by her side all day.  She alerts her when the door bell rings, when someone knocks, and when the fax, phone, stove timer, microwave, alarm clock, smoke alarm, or security alarm go off.  Once, when the battery in Gloria’s smoke alarm was getting weak and making a beeping sound, Olivia woke her up and insisted she leave the house. This amazing dog can understand some sign language and is trained to hear a baby cry.  She goes everywhere with Gloria; shopping, restaurants, church, meetings, coffee shops and more.  If some one calls out or the cell phone rings, she alerts Gloria.  She currently goes to schools with Gloria to do presentations on Hearing Ear Dogs.

Gloria has been asked some crazy questions like, “Can your dog tell you if something is wrong with your car?” or “Does your dog sign to you what people say?”

Olivia is very friendly and not afraid of anything. Except once, during a visit to the zoo with the grandchildren, a brazen tiger stared right at the dog and Olivia shook uncontrollably. The only time she lost her cool. She can be a quite a clown and is always happy.  At a birthday bowling party, she chased the ball down the lane, much to the amusement of everyone. She gets excited, but takes her job seriously.

During a recent visit, my grandsons tried to give her a treat but she wouldn’t take it.  Olivia is trained not to take food from strangers. She gets Dairy Queen treats once in a while and loves Cheerios.  She is often rewarded for good behaviour and for simply doing her job. Cheerios make a nice light snack and help prevent her from gaining weight.  Olivia stood patiently in the backyard until Gloria gave her the go ahead signal to chew on her bone.  My grandsons were most impressed with this hard working, clever dog.

Gloria is happy to have Olivia in her life.  She said, “We all have choices. Life is what you make of it.  You need to deal with what life hands you and carry on.” Being hearing impaired has not stopped her from living a full life; travelling, entertaining, spending time with her grandchildren and meeting with old friends like me.  I was impressed with Olivia and inspired by Gloria.

For more information on Hearing Ear Dogs: http://www.dogguides.com/doghome.htm

34 Responses to "Ears on Four Legs"

Great story about my Mom!

This is your Mom? She is very proud of her kids and grandkids. I am sure you are proud of her too. Thanks for the comment Samantha.

Thank you so much Darlene! I love it! Hope you don’t mind if I share?
(((HUGS))) Gloria

I am so glad you like it. Please do share. XO

Great story Darlene!! I met Gloria in Hawaii last year. She’s great and it was nice to hear about her and her special companion.

Great story Darlene…Good on you too sis!!

What a wonderful story! And Olivia must be a great companion and friend, too 🙂

What a wonderful story I’m so glad I called in today. Gloria and Olivia obviously have a lot of love and respect for one another.

Hi Darlene, Thank you so much for writing about Gloria and Olivia. I am proud to say that Gloria is my sister and it makes me so happy to know that Olivia is there to help her out in so many ways. She is such a special dog and the two of them make a wonderful pair. Thanks again for sharing your story with everyone.

Hi Darlene, Nice story about Gloria and Olivia. I think Gloria is amazing with her energy and spirit…she has been an inspiration to many of us who know her and I am proud to be related to her…hoping some of that spirit rubs off! What amazes me is that despite her hearing disability, Gloria also volunteers for search and rescue efforts in her area.

loved the story Goria ….big hugs xox

Great story very well done Darlene. I am very proud of my mother in law she is an amazing lady.

Aren’t these dogs wonderful? Such dedication. Thank You for the great story.

It warms my heart to know so many people enjoyed this story. Thanks everyone for your comments. It was so great to hear from Gloria’s family and friends as well.

We should all have such a devoted friend.

Great dog, great blog! I’m going to tweet your link and also post it on my FB fan page.

Thanks so much Sandra! Many people know about seeing eye dogs but are unaware of hearing ear dogs.

Thanks for sharing. Assistance dogs are so amazing!


We are the family that fostered Olivia as a puppy. We are so proud of her, and we were thrilled when she was paired with Gloria. She is an amazing dog, and we are glad that she has gone on to do amazing things in her life with Gloria. What a team!

This was a great account and fun to read aloud to my 5 year old daughter, who knows so many ‘Olivia stories’ (or O-dog stories as we affectionately dub them). She often requests them in the car!

Thank you Darlene, and thanks Gloria and Olivia!

xo Jen, Daryl, Aven & Remi (& our furry friend Vibes)

Hi Jen and family.

How wonderful to hear from the family that fostered Olivia as a puppy! So glad your 5 year old enjoyed the Olivia story. Gloria and Olivia are a perfect match.

Thanks for commenting on my blog.

Darlene, this is a wonderful story and so well put together.
Coincidentally, this past week I have been thinking about my beautiful “wolf dog” (German Shepherd/husky/wolf) who died prematurely at age 9 almost three years ago. I still miss her so very much and have been thinking it would be amazing if I could find another like her, but I know that won’t happen. (in case you would like to see her: http://bit.ly/InYSM7) Dogs can be such good companions. I enjoy stories as the one you shared here. Thanks.

Thanks Lynn, I’m glad you liked the post. I read your post on Shasta and was moved to tears. I know your family will always miss her and what al ovey dog she was too. Animals are great companions and very much a part of a family. XO

Olivia may not be Gloria’s friend, but it must be impossible not to get close to this wonderful dog.
Blessings – Maxi

Thanks Maxi. Olivia and Gloria are very close friends. Olivia just can’t become a pet because then her guard would be down. She is a working dog first and foremost. It would be like forming a close bond with a co-worker I would think. You are so right, Olivia is a wonderful dog and well loved. XO

Great story, Darlene. Olivia & Gloria sound like a great team!

Thanks for liking my writing piece, too. I really appreciate it. 🙂


Thanks for visiting my blog Eric. Glad you liked the story of Olivia and Gloria.

Reblogged this on Darlene Foster's Blog and commented:

Four years ago I wrote this blog about a very special dog. Today I heard the sad news that she has crossed over the rainbow bridge. RIP Olivia. ❤

Wonderful and heartwarming story, Darlene.

What a wonderful dog to have in your memories. I’m sure you will meet again.

She was very special to many. My friend will certainly miss her.

She sounds like she was a fabulous dog.

She was quite special.

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