Devizes happy-looking hearing spaniel is cancer victim

Thommie pictured with Tony Richards after his win in the Hearing Dog of the Year Awards

Thommie pictured with Tony Richards after his win in the Hearing Dog of the Year Awards

First published in News

A special dog, known by many people in Devizes as Smiler because of his happy face, has died.

Thommie, a spaniel cross, was a hearing dog and had been the companion of Tony Richards, 50, for ten years.

Mr Richards, of Devizes, who was born with cerebral palsy and is profoundly deaf, was paired up with Thommie by national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

Thommie was the first hearing dog Mr Richards had and was trained to alert his owner to everyday sounds, such as the alarm clock, telephone, doorbell and smoke alarm.

He allowed Mr Richards to live independently and also accompanied him to work at Booker Cash and Carry in Trowbridge, where he was given his own kennel.

In 2010, Thommie won the life changing category in the annual Hearing Dog of the Year Awards.

Mr Richards is a member of Devizes and District PHAB and he and Thommie took part in the annual wheelchair push and walk, raising money for PHAB and Hearing Dogs.

Thommie was put to sleep on August 4, after vets found out he had cancer.

He had been due to retire as a hearing dog when he turned 11 earlier this year and the plan was for him to live with Mr Richard’s parents, David and Judith.

However, there had been a delay in securing a new hearing dog to take his place.

David Richards, of Salis-bury Street, Devizes, said: “It’s very, very sad. It was so sudden and premature, which made it even more of a shock. My son is devastated and he is staying with us until he gets a new hearing dog.

“Everybody in Devizes knew Thommie and people used to call him Smiler as he was a dog that seemed to smile at you when you approached him.

“He loved people and in the card shop in High Street the staff had a cushion on a shelf behind the counter for him to sit on. He and Tony used to go to Wetherspoons every Saturday lunchtime and the PHAB group loved him.

“Thommie changed Tony’s life. He gave Tony independence and security. Thommie was totally his ears. It’s the loss of a major part of him.”

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