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First visitors with hearing dog arrive Okinawa

Date Posted: 2002-11-02

The first tourists ever to visit Okinawa accompanied by a hearing dog arrived at Naha Airport on Oct. 24, when a couple from Chiba Prefecture outside Tokyo, Nobuo and Ikuo Tanaka, walked into the arrival lobby with their dog “Kayo-chan.”

The couple’s visit was made possible by the changing of the rules on Oct. 1. The new rules allow dogs aiding disabled persons to enter any vehicle, including an airliner, or public facility with their master.

With the new law in mind, Kayo-chan’s owners had registered the canine with Japanese airlines allowing her to sit in the coach by its master’s feet. Normally dogs have to be transported in a special compartment in the luggage hold of the aircraft.

The couple stayed in Okinawa for four days, and was very pleased for their experience. “It was wonderful for us to be able to take Kayo-chan with us. She tells us when a doorbell or fire alarm, or actually any kind of alarm rings. She wakes us up in the morning, she recognizes the voices of cars, she’s absolutely necessary for us to have,” Tanaka said. He went on saying that he really appreciates that the rules were changed so that they can take their “ears” with them where ever they go. “She was very calm and quiet during the whole flight. No problem at all,” wife Nobuo added.

However, it may be some time before hearing dogs are a commonplace on every domestic flight in Japan. Currently, there are only 16 hearing dogs in Japan, and the price tag of ¥15 million each does not exactly promote their popularity.

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