Meet Hon Bro Arlo the dog
Arena catches up with Arlo
Hon Bro Arlo is the hearing assistance dog of Bro Sebastiaan Eldritch- Bőersen, Polytechnic Lodge No 2847. In a previous issue of Arena, we reported on how a deaf candidate, Bro Sebastiaan, had been initiated into Freemasonry with the help of his new Brothers and his trusted hearing assistant dog, Arlo. In this edition, we caught up with Arlo to learn more…
Hi there, my name is Arlo, and I am Brother Sebastiaan Eldritch-Bőersen's hearing assistant dog. I guess by default, I am also now a Master Mason as I have been at Sebastiaan's initiation, passing and raising ceremonies (it's not easy raising one man and his dog, I can tell you!). It's OK. Don't worry. I won't be passing on any of the secrets I have heard whispered in the temple. But don't forget I am a highly trained hearing dog, so even the softest whispers won't get by me.
I am seven years old and am a cockerpoo. I have been in Freemasonry for just over a year. When I was about 7-8 weeks old, along with my siblings, we all went off as tiny puppies to be socialised by a family who was specially trained by The Hearing Dogs Association. I didn't learn many of my specialist skills at this stage; it was all about having fun and playing with my toys.
My training continued, and I went through something called sensory zone training, where I learnt to walk on different surfaces and react to different sights, sounds and smells. It was all good fun. By the time I reached four months, I had learnt and remembered that my name was 'Arlo,' and I quickly grasped when my trainer wanted me to sit, stand, lay down, or wait. My favourite was lying down. I am quite good at that.
I then had to learn how to walk properly when I am out and about and how to return to my trainer when called. Not so nice was the command to 'leave it.' Sometimes I was really enjoying myself doing something when my trainer would call 'leave it.' To prepare me for life with someone who was deaf, they added distractions and temptations to what I had already learnt to see if I would remain focused or give way to what had distracted me, like dropping food on the floor to see if I would rush over or leave it. The correct answer was 'Leave it'. I also learnt how to react when I met other dogs, even dogs of the opposite sex! 'Leave it, Arlo, leave it!'
My next bit of training was called soundwork. I learnt what to do when I heard sounds like the doorbell, telephone alerts, digital timers, alarm clocks and fire alarms. We didn't cover masonic gavels, which is something I'm working on! I was taught to understand which sounds require which reactions and how to alert a deaf person when a certain sound goes off. For some sounds, I can alert them by just sitting down nicely and putting my paws on their legs. I will then either lead the deaf person to the sound or, if it's a danger signal like a fire alarm, I will lie down – to avoid leading someone into an unsafe situation.
It was around this time that I heard my trainers keep on talking about something called 'Sebastiaan', which required intense training sessions on the London Underground and walking through crowded streets in central London. Then one day, I was out having a nice walk with my trainer when we arrived at someone's house. We knocked on the door, and a man opened it. 'Hello Sebastiaan,' said my trainer and then the penny dropped. OK, sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake. Sebastiaan seemed very friendly. He gave me a big cuddle and even knew my name. After a while at Sebastiaan's, my trainer got up and walked to the door. 'Not you, Arlo. You are staying here tonight with Sebastiaan.' As soon as my trainer left, Sebastiaan gave me the biggest cuddle ever. I jumped up on him and licked his face.
Now, Sebastiaan and I have joined Freemasonry together, and we have both recently become master masons. I'm a quick learner, and I am doing well. Sebastiaan is trying his best. Start off on your left paw, square the Lodge at the corners, and a quick pull at his trouser leg with my teeth when he needs to move. Our next step: inner guard (and inner guard dog!). Woof, woof.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 51 April 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 51 here.