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Hear, hear!

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

10:14, August 29, 2012

Liu Yan and her "hearing dog" Pan at her home in Beijing.(Photos provided to China Daily)

'Hearing dogs' are a new concept in China but good training and their benefits to those with hearing loss should make them acceptable in public, reports Xu Lin in Beijing.

Liu Yan, 36, was walking on the streets in Beijing with her 2-year-old dog, Pan, fitted out in an orange uniform, when a cyclist behind them rang her bell and the dog suddenly jumped up to put her paws on Liu's legs. Pan's uniform reads "hearing dog" and helps people with hearing loss by alerting them to sounds such as doorbells, telephone ringing, clocks and smoke alarms.

"Pan is like family. I can't hear, so it hears everything for me," says Liu, a website editor at a pet magazine in the capital, who lost her hearing when she was 11 due to mumps.

In 1975, the first hearing dog was trained in the United States, where there are now more than 5,000 hearing dogs. In the US, they can enter public places and go on public transport, like guide dogs. Since 1983, Japan has also trained hearing dogs.

The China Beijing Kennel Club started the first hearing dogs public-service program in China, in June 2011. In February, the Japan Hearing Dogs Training Society gave Pan to Liu. A training society employee, Gakuto Sasaki, is now teaching a group of Chinese volunteers how to train hearing dogs.

They will choose homeless dogs from Beijing Canine Shelter and Inspection Center in Qiliqu town, Changping district, and train them before offering them free to people who have lost their hearing.

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