Written January 2014

Mutt Muffs - Hearing protection for dogs


Leonard A. McHugh

Here is the story about Toga and Mutt Muffs. It really is a product that I am glad that was developed.

Mutt Muffs can be purchased from: Welcome to Mutt Muffs!

Device makes life easier for guide dogs
Published: December 25, 2013
The Republican-Herald

Lenny McHugh, Pottsville, puts a set of Mutt Muffs on his guide dog Toga's ears Monday at his home. The muffs reduce noise but still allows Toga to hear McHugh's commands.

Lenny McHugh can now easily go to concerts. The 67-year-old Pottsville man, who is blind due to a genetic disease, depends upon his guide dog, Toga, to help him walking. However, while the dog makes up for his lack of his visual sense, the animal's keen sense of hearing usual kept him out of musical performances.

"I never went to concerts," McHugh said. "I would ask, should I take Toga or shouldn't I? I can now. "I went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert and put cotton in Toga's ears, but the cotton wasn't comfortable for her," McHugh said. McHugh would have to leave Toga, 7, or his previous guide dogs, Michah and Indy, at home or he would not go at all.

Recently, he learned about Mutt Muffs and bought a set two weeks ago for his dog. Mutt Muffs, which harness to the animal's head and look like headphones, muffle sounds but do not completely eliminate noise. Toga can still hear commands. Mutt Muffs normally cost $50 to $60 and are sized from extra small to extra large to fit any type of dog. Mutt Muffs were created in 2005 by Safe and Sound Pets when the founder, Michele Mcguire, decided to start taking their dog on airplane rides and the question arose, "How loud is your cockpit?" After a few prototypes, the final design of Mutt Muffs was created in 2005.

The first time McHugh used Mutt Muffs on his guide dog was at a Pottsville Area High School band concert earlier this month. McHugh bought Mutt Muffs about two weeks ago after he found out about them on a guide dog user list. Those on the list use Mutt Muffs for different types of occasions, including hunting, fireworks and for those who are in bands. McHugh was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which affects a person's night and peripheral vision. For much of his life, McHugh had relied on his cane rather than a freedom guide dog to get around. "I always liked dogs, but I was a little skeptical about trusting one with my life," McHugh said on his website, www.lennymchugh.com. McHugh finally looked into a guide dog after a surgery made his arms much weaker. After a year of physical therapy, he had only gained 40 percent of his movement back in his left arm and realized that in order to gain his independence back, he would need to have a guide dog. McHugh obtained his first guide dog, Indy, in April 1998.

Toga was sponsored by the Saratoga Lions Club. The club, who named the dog, thought Sara was too common of a dog name and decided on Toga. "I'm glad they didn't name her Saratoga because it would be a mouthful to direct her," McHugh said. "Saratoga sit, Saratoga right, Saratoga left, you know?"

Pottsville Republican and Herald


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