Stefan & Cully – A little dog but a great mate

“Good mates” is how Stefan Marica describes his relationship with his Hearing Dog Cully. He loves her and she adores him.
In 2007, Stefan was at the World Cup waterpolo championships in Melbourne. While there, he got notification that a Hearing Dog was available.
“I had to leave on the day of the finals to go to New Plymouth,” he says. Although disappointed to miss the finals, it was a good decision because when he met Cully it was love at first sight. “I liked her eyes, her ears – she expresses herself with her ears. If she puts them back, then she is showing me respect.”
For Stefan who lives alone, having a companion that he can talk to, without having to bother with hearing aids, is important.

Stefan__CulllyCully (named after Lyn Cullington’s husband, who was one of the first supporters of Hearing Dogs in New Zealand) is a corgi/ Australian cattle dog cross. Stefan loves her colouring of brown and yellow and says she looks like a ‘seal pup’. She has soft hair and loves to be stroked.

“She loves people, it doesn’t matter who they are,” says Stefan. “She just likes to get close to them and touch some part of that person’s body.” The only drawback to her being so friendly and cute is that people try to feed her which is not allowed in a working dog. However, it gives Stefan the opportunity to educate them about Hearing Dogs and what they do for people. He usually carries a few Hearing Dog pamphlets with him to give out.

For Stefan who lives alone, having a companion that he can talk to, without having to bother with hearing aids, is important. During the day, Cully is always near Stefan. If he leaves the room, she listens intently with her big ears, and peers around corners and under furniture to keep him in sight. Her lovely dark brown eyes watch everything he does.

Apart from looking after a friend’s Golden Retriever for two years, Stefan had not had a dog before Cully. He and his son Fanel stayed at the Hearing Dog Training Centre in New Plymouth for a week to learn how to work with Cully and how to look after her, and then they all boarded a plane to get back to Auckland. Cully took it all in her stride and was “very well-behaved.”

CullyShe is also well behaved when she goes to Pak n’ Save and church with Stefan. She knows the routine and if Stefan isn’t quick enough, she will get out of the car and go straight into church before he has chance to put her lead on.

Although her favourite outing is to Mt Albert. “When we get close, she ‘sings’,” laughs Stefan. He and Cully go there every day for a walk and although she will chase stray cats off his property, she just doesn’t seem to be able to do the same for rabbits. She will wait for them to appear, but sometimes they go right past her before she realises.

Although she loves a chase, Stefan is quick to explain that Cully is not a ferocious dog. “People ask me if she bites, but she’s very friendly with everybody, especially children.” Being a small dog means that children feel confident with her and she reciprocates their attention by snuggling into them.

Stefan can’t imagine his life without Cully to let him know when someone is at the door or that the telephone is ringing. “Before I had Cully it was quite annoying because people would stop calling me when I didn’t answer the phone,” he admits. So Cully has been instrumental in keeping him in contact with his family and friends. However, she is the one he feels most relaxed with, and with their companionable lifestyle of shopping, outings and hanging out together, he’s hoping that he and Cully will be ‘good mates’ for many more years.


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