An alert pooch named Windy does the hearing for deaf architect EAST COLUMBIA


February 16, 1993|By NATALIE HARVEY

Hank and Windy have formed a partnership.

Hank is Henry Maeser; Windy is his "hearing dog." The two have been together since October when Wendy became a part of the family. Even Brandy, the family's collie, accepts her as a friend.

Because Mr. Maeser has been deaf in one ear since birth, adjusting to situations has always been a part of his life. Not that it deterred him.

He is a graduate of Virginia Tech University, has been consulting architect with Montgomery County government and last year started his own business "M4 Designs." Mr. Maeser's wife, Ginger, and two children, Jason, 10, and Anna, 6, are active in their Mayfield community and at Linden Linthicum United Methodist Church in Clarksville, where the parents teach Sunday school. Mr. Maeser is also Webelo Leader of Den No. 3 in Pack 692.

When Mr. Maeser became aware of gradual loss of hearing in his "good" ear last summer, he did some research and selected NEADS (New England Assistance Dog Service Inc.) of West Boylston, Mass., a nonprofit organization that "provides trained dogs for deaf or physically disabled people to assist them in leading more independent lives."

A hearing dog is trained to respond to sounds such as an alarm clock, a telephone or a crying. Most dogs are trained for 18 months in a home environment before meeting their owners. Windy, a white German shepherd, proved so intelligent and had such quick responses that she and Mr. Maeser met when she was only 9 months old. They spent one week together at NEADS and came back to Columbia.

If that sounds easy; it wasn't. First, Mr. Maeser had to make the decision to have a dog who would never leave his side, to ask his family to accept a permanent family member, to have to expect public attention wherever he went and to hope for his clients' understanding.

Then there was the matter of cost. Friends, family, church and the Clarksville Lions Club all responded, donating more than $4,000. The Lions Club continues to raise funds for hearing and guide dogs.

The money paid for the puppy and its veterinary care, its training, the owner's training and periodic follow-up visits for two months after leaving NEADS.

When "working," Windy is on a leash; at home she is free to roam inside and play outside with the children and Brandy. But, she is never far from Mr. Maeser and is always alert to his needs, especially if he is working in his home office and someone comes to the door or the telephone rings. She paces or nudges until she has his attention, but she seldom barks.

Jason, Anna and all the Cub Scouts in the pack love Windy, too.

Mr. Maeser says he has never been refused entrance to any public facility with Windy. "I always ask before entering a private home or office," he says. "I realize that some people are not comfortable with dogs. People are very caring, and so far things have worked well. Windy's vest with the 'hearing dog' plainly stated is our introduction."

One of the public outings was to the election polls, where I first met the family. Adults and children alike were attracted and inquired about the "hearing dog."

In the true spirit of the Boy Scouts, Mr. Maeser believes in "being prepared" and is taking lip-reading classes, provided by the Hearing and Speech Agency, at the Keswick Center in Baltimore.

NEADS also trains "service dogs" who are trained to act as arms and legs for wheelchair-bounds persons; and "specialty dogs" who are trained for people with multiple disabilities.

For information about Hearing Dogs, call Canine Companions, (301) 460-3040 or TDD; for Service Dogs, call Partners for Independence, (301) 587-9212.


All of Columbia, but especially East Columbia, is proud of Hammond High's Samantha Andersch. She has been included as a midfielder on Parade Magazine's first all-America High School Girls' Soccer Team.

Parade recognized the increase in the number of players (135,302) and their skills and selected 29 players this year.

During Sami's high school years, Hammond High School has won 47 games and two state championships. Last year she traveled to Denmark with the East Coast Under-16 Regional Team; this spring she plans to be in England with the Under-19 Team. Sami has played soccer since age 5, when she signed up for a coed team in New Jersey.

All members of the Andersch family are soccer enthusiasts and have either played or coached. Sami's parents, Roy and Anita, have coached Columbia's Crusaders.

"I have always liked soccer because of the fairness of the sport", her father said. "The average-sized girl or boy can play the game and win."

Sami also has excelled in track, running the 800 meters and 1,600 meters for the Howard County and regional track teams. She also plays for Hammond's girls' basketball team. Good luck at college, Sami. Keep that soccer ball travelin'.


In an effort to help develop a positive attitude toward reading and establish peer role models, Oakland Mills High School athletes and athletic director Ken Klock will visit Talbot Springs Elementary School on Friday from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. to read to the students. Each classroom teacher pre-selected the book she felt would add interest to the students' current curriculum.


Sponsored by Lite Magazine, local poets will read at tonight's Poetry Reading, 7:30 p.m. at Cover-To-Cover Bookstore Cafe in Owen Brown Village Shopping Center. All poets are welcome to bring their works for the open stage readings.

The fee is $3. Information: 410-381-9200.

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