The Wednesday Post
So…it happens. Dogs go deaf. Some sooner than others. So it is with Jean-Luc Picardigan, nearly twelve years old but otherwise robust.
Well…if you don’t count the brain injury.
But it turns out that the brain injury might just matter.
My first gone-deaf dog was Strider the Wonderhound, dog of my heart. (You know my Blue Hound Visions web service? Yes, that dog.) Gone twelve years now, but no less beloved–loyal, smart, protective. And who knows how long he’d been going deaf before I realized he’d gone deaf.
Why? Because he functioned so well, I never had reason to question whether he could hear or not. He used his young Cardigan companion (Kacey, if anyone’s counting) as a Hearing Ear dog; he was attuned to my body language and my activity, and always responsive to both.
Things got even easier once I (duh) finally clued in. Within weeks he was responding to vibrations and hand signals. Soon enough he even did some contextual lip reading–there were still words I had to spell!
Enter Jean-Luc Picardigan, these years later. Autistic since a birthing injuring, heavily rehabbed, highly dependent on specialized daily management. Completely “tone deaf” to other doggy body language–and to human gestures.
Let’s just say there’s no question about Jean-Luc’s hearing loss.
Absent aural cues, he loses us in the house–and doesn’t have the tools to find us, or to leave where he is to find a new where he might want to be. He simply is where he is until he gets enough of a visual cue to act on.
(Not that he doesn’t still have his playful moments–when all his contexts are in place, he grabs up his favorite toy and parades it around with pride. And boy, let one of the other dogs dash by and his movement-triggered herding responses go off full-swing! Atavistic, he is.)
On a hard day, he wears a trailing leash–it makes things so much easier for him when he’s struggling to understand. I pick up the leash and his body relaxes. Oh, he says. I can do THIS.
Study in contrasts: Strider the lip-reading Wonderhound verus Jean-Luc Picardigan, lost in his own life.
Though really, he’s always been a wonder in his own way. Cheysuli Jean-Luc Picardigan OJP NAP OJC NAC CGC started his agility training as therapy–awkward, spatially challenged, and easy to overwhelm–and was never expected to enter an agility ring, never mind earn Open-level titles and his CGC (canine good citizen). He even won a startling handful of red and blue placement ribbons along the way–he not only ran agility, he ended up loving it and doing it well! So I try not to count him out of the game…and I guess we’ll see how it goes!
My dog went deaf during that last year or two. It took me far too long to figure it out. But one day I slid a bowl of chow across the floor behind him, and got no response. He was *so* relieved when I made sure he had a visual queue as to what I wanted.
Good luck with JL!
Adrianne, I’ll just bet your dog was delighted on that day. The Day of Chow! Life probably got a lot easier for both of you. But I sure do understand–I bet Strider had been profoundly deaf for a year before I figured out it. They can adapt so well!
They really can amaze us.
Peggy, that’s the truth! I hope Jean-Luc continues to amaze…
Today he’s just a bit of a dork. ;>
“lost in his own life.”
As always your words set the creative juices flowing, and the above phrase was particularly powerful. Another punch line for a story yet to be told.
Robert, what a particularly nice thing to say!
I have an australian shepherd born deaf and mostly blind and she is the smartest dog we have. That means she gets in the most trouble, lol. People always would tell us we should have her put to sleep to put her out of her misery, but we tell them she is the happiest dog I have ever seen. She knows where everything is in the house and yard and is extremely well adjusted. I love your stories and will continue to check in. Happy Fresh Ficton Valentine’s Day!!!
Thanks for stopping by! Glad you like the looks of the place. 8)
I figure…listen to the dog. (Or cat!) They really do tell you what you need to know. Like, “I am not miserable!” ;>
HFFVD! Got you in the contest…
I can’t say I can remember having an animal that went deaf, but one of my cats has been blind since birth. I always feel bad when he thinks he can take off and run after another cat and crashes into furniture. And it has to confuse the poor animal to lose a sense like hearing. I know I’d be very disturbed & disoriented if I lost my hearing.
Oh and Happy Fresh Fiction Valentine’s Day! 😀
I think Jean-Luc is also getting cataracts, which can’t help…
Well, if your kitty is running off into furniture, you know the blindness doesn’t truly bother him…or he’d only do it once! 8D
I think everyone should take heed from these amazing additions to our families. No matter their suffering from illness and age our dogs provides us with 100% of their heart, loyalty and friendship. We are so blessed to have these amazing beautiful angels in our lives. Happy Fresh Fiction Valentine’s Day!
Darci, I can’t argue with you there! Thanks for stopping by, and HFFVD!
When I was growing up, we had a basset hound who was deaf and who, like your wonderhound, responded beautifully to hand signals. When she was 13, she went blind and we worried that would be the end of her, but she adapted, using her nose, paws, and tongue. We kept a harness on her in case she needed to be guided, but mostly she was fine and she lived another three happy, drooly years. Dogs are just the most miraculous of creatures, and I’ve been blessed with some amazingly fine furry friends. I’m still recovering from the loss of Monte the Wonder Beagle (the heartache is stunning), but I know that someday soon I’ll be searching for my next partner in crime. Happy Fresh Fiction Valentine’s Day!
Ahh, Basset. She still had her nose! Very sorry for your loss of Monte, though. ConneryBeagle sends whisker-kisses!