My name is Phyllis Samara. I was born with a moderate hearing loss, but I have never let my hearing loss stand in the way of accomplishing my goals. I have worked as an occupational therapist for 45 years. I graduated from the Sargent College at Boston University and I am a retired Professor Emerita from Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA. I have always had a passion for working with children and this led me to found the Barrett Family Wellness Center, a pediatric speech and occupational therapy clinic, in Northborough, MA.
The assistance of a NEADS Service Dog for hearing has played an important role in my life. I was teamed with Shadow, a Boston terrier/boxer mix, in 2009. The past 8 years with him have been wonderful. Shadow is trained to tell me when my phone rings (I don’t miss calls), he informs me when someone is following me or has come into the room unexpectedly and he tells me if someone is trying to get my attention by calling my name. In addition to assisting me in my everyday life, Shadow allows me to share my disability with others; I am continually educating people about Service Dogs and hearing loss. Shadow provides me with the self-assurance to advocate for my needs and he has greatly increased my confidence. Shadow and I teach children and parents about services dogs and what it means to be hard of hearing. Shadow is aging and it is time for him to be retired. My hope is that I will be privileged to have another NEADS hearing dog to help me meet the day to day challenges of having a hearing deficit.