Photo gallery and video: ‘Every school needs a Zena’ - the wonder dog!
08:45 10 October 2012
Archant © 2012
When she lost most of her hearing, she felt helpless, lonely and isolated.
But now, thanks to a flat-coat golden retriever, teacher Jessica Presland is back in the classroom and her successful partnership with Zena has even been nominated for a special national award.
Language teacher Mrs Presland and her dog have been named as finalists at the Specsavers Hearing Dog Awards 2012, after the lovable mutt helped give the teacher her independence when she lost some of her hearing.
Mrs Presland grew up with hearing problems but lost a considerable amount of her hearing when she developed bilateral Meniere’s disease.
Mrs Presland, of Worlingham, said: “I had always been very independent and at the time I felt helpless. I didn’t feel like living. I was lonely and isolated.”
She was teamed up with Zena by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and now the five year old dog goes everywhere with her, including helping in her classroom at East Point Academy, in Lowestoft, where the dog has become quite the celebrity.
Mrs Presland, 51, said: “Zena is an amazing, inspiring dog who not only allows me my independence, but touches the lives of numerous students and teaching colleagues on a daily basis.”
In school Zena helps by alerting her to a firealarm and reacting to a timer in the classroom, while also being a comfort to pupils and teachers alike.
Zena is also vital when Mrs Presland is at home, while the burgundy coat reminds people to look at her so she can lip-read.
“Her day starts when my alarm clock goes off and she wakes me by putting both paws on the bed,” said Mrs Presland.
“She responds to the cooker timer, telephone, front door bell and people calling by coming to me, putting one paw on my leg to alert me and then leading me to the sound.
“If a smoke alarm goes off Zena would alert me and then fall flat on the floor to indicate that I should not walk into danger. She would also do this for fire alarms anywhere.
“With Zena, I am not longer afraid of being alone at night and I sleep better.”
Mrs Presland, a mother of four, added: “I feel Zena deserves this award, not only because she has given me back my confidence, but for everything she does while she is in school.”
She said: “She is my best friend and is loved wherever we go. Every school needs a Zena.”
The Specsavers Hearing Dog Awards 2012 will be held in London next Wednesday.