Rescued Staffy Cross Helps With Sound

Wednesday, 2 March, 2016

Darwin resident, Chris Blackham-Davison and his four-legged companion, Tamari, have won an IFAW Animal Action Award for their work in highlighting how animals and humans can work in partnership. 


Tamari a four-year-old red heeler crossed with a staffy was selected from a Whyalla vet's rescue dog programme for special training with Lions Clubs Australia in 2014.  This nationwide programme trains rescued dogs help the deaf community with everyday barriers.  Under the expert guidance of Lions Club Dog Trainer, Darren Coldwell, Tamari successfully graduated and has been a fully accredited as a Lions Hearing Dog since late 2014.


Mr Blackham-Davison, a local teacher was born with a severe to profound hearing loss, and has a hearing aid and cochlear implant.  However when he was matched with a cute brown-and-white dog from South Australia, Mr Blackham-Davison life changed for the better.  As with guide dogs for the vision impaired, hearing dogs wear a special identification harness when outside and are allowed into all public spaces.


Wherever Mr Blackham-Davison goes, Tamari accompanies him, they go shopping, to restaurants, on airplanes and public transport. According to Mr Blackham-Davison, "Tamari has made a really positive impact to my life – she makes me a lot more independent. I don't have to rely on other people for important sounds. But even better than that, we love each other’s company – she’s become my best mate – my day is made better and brighter thanks not only to her jumping on me to alert me to sounds, but she’s a constant source of cuddles!”


Australian Lions Hearing dog trainer Darren Coldwell and IFAW Animal Action Award recipient said, “ Lions Hearing Dogs, based in Adelaide, have trained over  540 dogs around Australia in the 34 years since the organisation was established.  Many of the dogs trained have come from animal shelters, having been given up or abandoned – all facing an uncertain future.  Dogs are selected based on their behaviour and personality.   After some pretty intensive training, hearing dogs like Tamari learn a range of household sounds, including a baby crying, door bell, door knock, telephone, mobile text, microwave, oven timer, smoke alarm, and others sounds that many of us take for granted.”

Announcing the award, IFAW representative, Deanne Gibbs congratulated the hearing team, including Dr Melville-Smith, from the Whyalla Vetenariry Clinic in South Australia who over ten years has rescued over 5,000 cats and dogs, on their dedication to promoting human animal partnerships.  “We are delighted to be able to highlight the fantastic work undertaken by the Lions Club, and wanted to especially thank Tamari. Chris and Tamari’s story is inspirational and we hope that their example of a great animal human partnership encourage others to do all they can to protect animals. We think Tamari and his team are all true animal heroes.”

Post a comment

Press Contact

Rebekka Thompson-Jones
Contact phone:
+61 (0)2 9 288 4973
Contact mobile:
+61 (0)401 090 034
Contact email:


Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters