Dogs for the deaf Inc is a non profit organization who’s mission is to rescue and professionally train dogs to help people and enhance lives, maintaining a lifelong commitment to all the dogs that are rescued and the people served.
Founded in 1977 by the late Roy G. Kabat, Roy worked with exotic and domestic animals for movies and television and had a small traveling circus. After retiring to the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon, he was contacted by the American Humane Association and their headquarters in Denver, Colorado. A deaf woman in Minnesota had had a dog that had trained itself to let her know when things were going on. As she lost more and more hearing, the dog alerted her to more and more things. After her dog died, the woman realized how much she had come to depend on the dog and began a search for someone to train a new dog for her. The American Humane Association began some experimental work trying to train dogs to help people who were deaf, and they wanted Roy’s advice. After spending two weeks in Denver, Roy came back to Oregon and began Dogs for the Deaf.
After his death in 1986, his daughter Robin Dickson took over the reigns as CEO and this is her story:
After graduating from college with a degree in Education (English major) and Business, Robin taught high school English for 12 years in Wisconsin. In 1981 she moved to Oregon and joined Dogs for the Deaf, then in its fourth year of operation.
When she was a child, Robin’s father was manager and part owner of Jungleland in Thousand Oaks, CA, where all the movie and TV animals lived and were trained, so she was raised around animals (both domestic and exotic) and animal training. She had a “pet” lion and learned to train elephants, horses, and dogs. After her father retired, he moved to Oregon and a few years later started Dogs for the Deaf. In 1981 Robin went from teaching “to the dogs” and joined him in this work of rescuing dogs and helping people with disabilities.
Robin started as a Hearing Dog trainer and then became Assistant Director. With her father’s death in 1986, Robin was hired as the CEO. Under her leadership, DFD purchased property and built a new, permanent facility in Central Point, Oregon. In addition to training and placing the finest Hearing Dogs in the country, DFD now also trains Autism Assistance Dogs for children on the autism spectrum and Program Assistance Dogs for teachers, counselors, therapists, court room advocates, physicians, and other professionals who work with people with disabilities.
For 32 years, Robin has committed herself to maintaining DFD’s mission of rescuing dogs and helping people and has expanded the programs to rescue more types of dogs and help people with additional kinds of challenges. Dogs for the Deaf is a non-profit organization and is funded totally by donations. There is no charge to the people for the dogs, other than a nominal $50.00 application fee.
Robin is one of the founders of Assistance Dogs International, the coalition group of Assistance Dog programs from around the world that sets the standards for this industry. She has served two terms as president and three terms as secretary.
Robin has two children and four grandchildren. Her hobbies include gardening, genealogy, hiking, crafts, reading, and playing with her grandchildren.
Robin will be a guest on the Pet Radio Show April 27, 2013