Lacey Hagen and Hearing Assist Dog Ynda
By Susan Byers
Lacey Hagen’s story is a tale of two dogs.
Her first Can Do Canines journey began in 2003 with a lively Black Labrador Retriever named Pearl, a Hearing Assist Dog.
For most of her life, Lacey has been significantly hearing impaired, resulting from meningitis when she was only one year old. Over the years, she relied on hearing aids to restore partial hearing, as well as support from her mother and later from college roommates. But when it came time to move out on her own, a friend convinced Lacey to look into an assistance dog.
Back then, Can Do Canines placed young dogs with their clients for an extended training period. Lacey and Pearl trained together for almost a year before certifying in 2004.
Pearl helped Lacey at home and in crowded areas where it was more difficult to discern sounds. “She was my alarm clock and my alert system, especially if someone was at the door,” says Lacey. Pearl was a devoted companion until her death last October at nearly 14 years old. Shortly after, Lacey returned to Can Do Canines in hopes of a successor dog. The result: a sweet Goldador (Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever cross) male named Ynda.
The second time around was a little different. While Pearl had trained for months while living with Lacey, Ynda instead had several months of advance training at Can Do Canines. The team met in April, and after a short training period they were certified in June.
Lacey chuckles at how the two dogs are as different as night and day. “Pearl was as crazy as Ynda is calm,” explained Lacey. “Pearl was ready to walk anytime—even in the rain—while this guy here is perfectly happy being my couch potato.” But what the two dogs have in common is a pair of hyper-alert ears that hear what Lacey cannot, alerting her to unexpected sounds and providing her with constant companionship, security, and peace of mind.
Lacey has quickly bonded with Ynda in their four short months together. Maybe it’s because he’s a local boy—literally. He was Puppy Raised at the Federal Correctional Institution at Sandstone, just down the road from Lacey’s home in Sandstone, Minnesota.
“The prison did an awesome job raising Ynda,” Lacey comments. “Thanks too to all the others who generously donate their time and supplies and money to Can Do Canines.”
Lacey proudly graduates in the fall of 2017 as a certified team with Ynda faithfully at her side—and Pearl forever in her heart.
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: The Ruppe family
Puppy Raiser: The inmate handlers at FCI Sandstone
Special Thanks: The Nelson family
You: Thank you for your donations!