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Talking to a deaf dog

A while back, I posted that I was worried about my dog. He’s getting on (he’s 12 years old), and he has had some chronic health issues for years (hypothyroidism, eg.)

Well, last week (after I got back from a week away), I noticed that he is really quite deaf. He seems to hear some things (high-pitched calls, some loud noises), but he’s clearly oblivious to most sounds – because he can no longer hear them.

This afternoon we went to see his vet. After two of us restrained him (he has become a most ornery and crotchety animal), the veterinarian managed to inspect both ears: nothing to see, no obstructions, no infections, no damage to his eardrums.

And so, old age it is.

Paraphrasing (and slightly altering) what the Buddha said, Decay is inherent in all compounded things …even ears; sniff on with diligence.

(Use the nose, Luke …er, Jigger.)

I wonder what the next age-related indignity will be. And I’m now more worried about his little attempts to dig his way under the fence in our back garden – his escapes into the neighboring apartment block parking lots and busy nearby streets will present new challenges, now that he can’t even hear us calling him as his search party fans out. One web source suggests ‘belling’ one’s deaf dog – at least that way, the humans can hear the dog.

I suppose I could get one of those harnesses that goes around the ribcage. I could sew some jingle-bells on it; then, add some reflective tape, and clip on a couple of flashing bicycle lights (for when I let him out at night).

Talking to a deaf dog is quite frustrating. I spent years perfecting all these silly voices, just for him – and now he can’t hear them. He still gets the hand signals – when he can see them through his ‘bangs,’ that is.

File this one under #whatadrag…


  1. I am sorry to hear your dog is experiencing these not only annoying but downright debilitating problems of aging. I remember all these things compounding with the cat with had years ago, the poor thing….

    Comment by maria — June 30, 2010 #

  2. This is a hard one 🙁 For several years, my husband I joked that our dog was pretending to be deaf… when it was more convenient for her to ignore us. But it wasn’t quite so funny when it actually happened, at age 12. That said, she lived another year pretty happily. She adjusted and learned (on her own) to look around more, which meant more chances to catch us “calling” her with hand signals. She still ignored those when it suited her, though 😉

    Hang in there.

    Comment by Kathy Sierra — July 2, 2010 #

  3. I remember when your cat did poorly and how it affected everyone in your family when she died, Maria. We all know it’s coming, but it’s a tough one, all the same…!
    It’s amazing how well (and generally without any complaints) animals adjust to disabilities, Kathy. They’re happy if we’re happy – it’s almost like it’s a symbiotic job or something! And yes, I’m keeping my eye on Jigger for “selective listening,” which isn’t at all the same thing as being deaf! 😉

    Comment by Yule — July 3, 2010 #

  4. PS @Kathy: you’re still absent on the blog scene and now Twitter, too – any chance you’ll do guest posts anywhere? Or a subscription-based thing? If you do, let me know please – missing your voice online!

    Comment by Yule — July 3, 2010 #

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