Meet Ruby and Toto: Living in St. John’s with a Hearing Ear Dog

Meet Ruby and Toto: Living in St. John’s with a Hearing Ear Dog

Meet Ruby Drake, she lives in St. John’s with her hearing ear dog named Toto. She grew up in St. Lawrence and has dealt with the many struggles of hearing loss since she was a child. Throughout her life, Ruby tried different types of hearing aids but still experienced communication challenges. She first came across the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program when she saw a poster on the wall at a local Lions Club in a small town she was visiting. Ruby immediately grew interested in the program and decided to contact the Dog Guides program for more information, receiving the application and information in the mail shortly after.

About a month after applying, a representative from the dog school came to Newfoundland to visit Ruby’s home and conduct a home assessment. About three weeks after the home assessment, Ruby found out that she was approved for the Hearing Ear Dog Guide Program. There was one catch, Ruby had no idea which breed of dog she would receive after training. She traveled to Ontario and stayed at the Dog Guide training facility for two weeks to attend classes and train with her new Dog Guide. A few days after arriving, Ruby was introduced to her new puppy, Toto. This was an emotional experience for her, “we were inseparable, totally inseparable.” Ruby met many other people and their new Dog Guides as well, and four years later she still keeps in touch with some of her classmates.


Toto helps Ruby in many aspects of her life. Most importantly, Toto alerts Ruby to sounds happening around her. She says “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have her, I seriously wouldn’t know.” Having a Hearing Ear Dog Guide means more independence and a safer environment. For example, Ruby cannot hear when someone is knocking on her door. Toto hears the sound, and indicates to Ruby that there is someone waiting at the front door. When they are out for a walk, Toto will let Ruby know if there is someone walking behind them, by constantly turning around. When asked how Toto has helped her personally, Ruby says “she’s brought back my self esteem a little bit, she’s brought up my self confidence, she’s given me motivation to get up and get out, to mingle with people, and to educate people (about my hearing challenges).”

When asked for words of wisdom for people living with reduced hearing, Ruby says “be positive, don’t let anything or anyone get you down…get as much support as you can.”

For more information on Hearing Ear Dog Guides, please visit:



Questions or Comments?

  • for statistical purposes
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.