A much-loved hearing dog is retiring after eight years helping his deaf owner from Banbury gain confidence.
Scruffy the bichon frise is due to end his working life helping Stephanie Harrop at the end of the month.
Stephanie, 38, of Beargarden Road, is getting a replacement hearing dog – a two-year-old black Labrador called Zoe – but she says she will dearly miss Scruffy.
“He’s given me a lot of confidence to go out and speak to people as often they don’t realise I’m deaf because I speak quite well,” she said.
“But when they see Scruffy, they realise and are a bit more patient with me.
“But I’m really sad to see him go, it was a very difficult decision to make but he’s going to stay with my mother in London so I will still be able to visit him. He often goes there when we go away so he’ll just think it’s one long holiday!”
Stephanie said Scruffy is well-known in Banbury and people often say hello when they see them out and about, so she wanted to let people why she will soon have a new dog by her side.
Scruffy helped Stephanie out when she ran a flower stall on the London Underground, and since they moved to Banbury as she raised her daughter Charlotte.
Usually hearing dogs retire after 10 to 13 years but Stephanie said Scruffy has worked particularly hard and is able to quit a bit earlier than normal.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People provided Scruffy to Stephanie and are also giving her Zoe, for which she is very grateful.
“I really appreciate everything they do to make our lives a lot easier, I’m so thankful to them,” she said.