Hear Hear! Unleashing audiology expertise at FETCHLAB™
Step onto the University of Akron (UA) campus, and you'll find a learning experience that's as heartwarming as it is educational — the FETCHLAB™. This isn't your ordinary classroom; it's a place where adorable puppies and the pursuit of knowledge collide in the most delightful way possible.
Students in the Doctor of Audiology program aren't just hitting the books; they're gaining hands-on training by working with fluffy, four-legged companions. The FETCHLAB™, short for the Facility for Education & Testing of Canine Hearing & the Laboratory for Animal Bioacoustics, is a hub of puppy-powered learning.
FETCHLAB™ Akron opened in 2016 and offer shearing screenings, diagnostic examinations and tailored guidance for dogs facing hearing impairments — a resource for both vigilant dog owners and conscientious breeders alike.
“Some dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to congenital deafness; therefore, many breeders regularly check the hearing of their puppies before sending them to new homes,” said Dr. Paige Wulliger, director of FETCHLAB™ and senior lecturer in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.
To conduct the assessments, dogs are placed onto a table and are outfitted with a special vest. Delicate electrodes are then gently placed around the ears and atop the head of the dog. A gentle symphony of clicking sounds plays through a pair of insert earphones in the dog’s ears as a computer screen displays a visual representation of the dog's brainstem response, eloquently illustrated in a graph.
While the same type of tests can easily be conducted in a veterinarian’s office, breeders often choose to come to UA, where they can easily bring an entire litter of puppies for screening. FETCHLAB™ holds weekly hearing assessment clinics for both young pups and older dogs that might have hearing loss.
The weekly clinics are an invaluable opportunity for the UA audiology doctoral students, where theory and practice come together.
“Having the audiology students participate in FETCHLAB™ is such a rewarding experience. The lab provides them the opportunity to work with equipment that they can use clinically, while partaking in an experience that differs from their other rotations,” said Wulliger.
Story by Cristine Boyd
Appointments for hearing tests for dogs or litters of puppies at FETCHLAB™ can be arranged by calling 330-972-6035.