Always look on the bright side of deaf

Bella's ear - I Still Want More Puppies

Ear’s the thing…

A few months ago, I realized that Bella is losing her hearing. It’s not totally gone yet, but she definitely has trouble hearing. When she does hear a sound, she seems to have trouble figuring out where it’s coming from. (Is your dog experiencing hearing loss too? Check out some of these tips.)

Initially, I was kind of sad about this realization. After all, my baby puppy is not as young as she used to be. However, I’ve come to realize that there are a few benefits to this new state of affairs. (Plus, deaf dogs rock!)

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, try to look on the bright side of life.

You might find that there are some silver linings to that seemingly dark cloud. (After all, we should always rely on Spamalot for important life lessons.) Here are a few good things I’ve discovered about having a dog that’s losing her hearing…

  • Storm phobia? What storm phobia? Bella used to lose her mind at the first sound of thunder, but now she sleeps right through even the worst storms.
  • The jury is still out on fireworks, but I’m hoping that she won’t be able to hear those either. If so, we’re two for two.
  • I don’t have to worry about bothering her while I’m cleaning house or doing laundry. The activity (including opening and closing of doors) used to disturb her naps, but now she doesn’t notice (although I do take care not to startle her).
  • The smoke alarm battery started screeching last night. She slept through it, unlike the rest of us, who reacted… not so well.
  • It’s given us the chance to develop a secret language of sorts. Because she can’t hear me, we’ve developed a series of hand signals that she responds to.
  • Watching Bella quickly adapt to her new situation (including intuitively picking up those hand signals I mentioned) has been pretty amazing. I’m proud of how resilient she truly is.
  • As a fringe benefit, I’ve noticed that Tavish is picking up on these hand signals as well. I guess he wants to be like his big sister?
  • Doorbells on television do not bug her anymore. (Also, she can’t judge me for watching bad TV, since she can no longer identify the theme songs.)
  • Bella sleeps pretty soundly, as tiny noises don’t wake her up. Although Tavish still needs a snooze alarm, Bella no longer demands breakfast before dawn.
  • I occasionally get to enjoy a snack in (relative) peace, as she no longer hears the crinkling of a bag from two floors away. (Honestly, I used to think that she could hear me even thinking about having a snack.)
  • I can always beat her at a game of Name That Tune (or at SongPop, for you modern kids with your newfangled smartphones).

Has your dog lost her hearing? Have you discovered any unexpected upside to your dog losing her hearing or eyesight? How have you adapted? Share your experience in the comments!

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32 thoughts on “Always look on the bright side of deaf

  1. Our beagle Kobi is just starting to lose his. Yes, he sleeps through everything now (not breakfast time though….lucky you). We often have to nudge him to wake him up. He’s always been pretty easygoing anyway, but it’s still funny to see him sleep through a raging thunderstorm when the rest of us can’t. Yes, I never thought I’d see the day when I could go in the kitchen and he might not hear me crinkling a bag! That is the one thing that makes me know for sure.
    Jan K recently posted..Black & White Sunday – Hidey Hole

  2. It’s always a bit sad when they begin to lose some of their senses. I noticed Sampson sometimes hears things in the woods but isn’t sure which direction they are coming from. I’m not sure if this is because he has some hearing loss or just because we’re in the woods. Mostly I’m glad he’s looking in the wrong direction, it gives me time to assess the situation. 🙂

    Deaf dogs do rock and knowing hand signals is awesome! Go Bella, go Bella~~
    Jodi recently posted..Tuesday’s Tails – Regally Yours

  3. I’ve recently trained a blind dog, it’s so enlightening to a) realise just what can distract our dogs, and b) realise how clueless other dog owners are – like the other owner in class with store bought treats kept in the packet, and never realised that her rustling all through class was really distracting for Bruin. I’d bought some stuff to make him a crinkly treat bag – sadly Bruin’s diabetes has taken a toll on him lately, and he’s out of class for the time being, but I’m told (by my friend, mentor, and training instructor) that he’s brilliant at home, and the one-on-one attention has done some great stuff for him.
    Sam recently posted..Be Your Dog’s Advocate This Summer

  4. Sorry to hear about Bella’s hearing loss! I definitely know how difficult it is to witness a dog losing her senses 🙁 But they adapt quickly, and I’ll be honest that if given a choice, I’d much rather have had Ellie lose her hearing than her sight because she is SO distracted by every little sound!
    Stacy and Ellie recently posted..Low-fat dog treats

  5. I think this is really a fantastic post and great way to see the brighter side of life. The trainer I just finished working with rescued two deaf dogs and it’s amazing to see how they communicate. Dogs are so smart, adaptable and they make a good situation out of whatever is thrown at them. Way to point out the best of things!
    BoingyDog recently posted..Let’s Address the Pit Bull in the Room

  6. How interesting that you just wrote about this. I was just speaking with someone who said they were sad they dog had lost their hearing but glad because it meant they could not hear the fireworks. I am glad Daisy hasn’t lost hers yet (she’s 10 now), but part of me will think it a little bit of a blessing when she does because it will mean she is no longer stressed out from storms or fireworks. It’s kind of a bittersweet realization isn’t it?

    May the fireworks not disturb you sweet Bella.
    melf recently posted..Wordless Wednesday #147

    • Oh, that’s interesting that you were just talking about this with someone! It is sad because it means she’s getting older, but it was so nice to know that the fireworks didn’t stress her out this year.

  7. I think deaf dogs rock as well! Although mine haven’t lost any of their hearing yet, I have always used hand signals as the main part of our language. It is a little sad though, but I must say, Bella YOU ROCK!!
    24 Paws of Love recently posted..We heard Thunder

  8. Emmett is starting to lose his hearing. One of the side effects that I’ve noticed is that some noises seem to startle him more than ever before… while others escape his attention altogether. We always trained with hand signals (it helped when working with the kiddos in our therapy program because they’d give him a verbal cue while I secretly did the hand signal behind their back to ensure he’d perform the behavior), so I’m really reinforcing those just for extra safety. Thankfully, these incredible dogs of ours seem to adapt phenomenally well, don’t they?
    Maggie recently posted..Emergency preparedness for pets

  9. When my first dog, Agatha, lost her hearing, she became more attached to me. She couldn’t hear where I was so she’d have to look for me.

    Of course her eyesight wasn’t so hot either by this time. So I’d have to jump up and down and wave my arms to help her spot me through the cataracts.

    Yep, prepare for embarrassment. 🙂 But it’s worth it.
    Pamela recently posted..How Are Dog People Different – Wordless Wednesday

  10. I love a post with a Monty Python reference…

    I’m sorry to hear she is losing her hearing. It’s hard to see our pups get older – but it’s the way things go. So, good for you looking on the bright side. I remember our beagle lost a tiny bit of her hearing when she got older. The highlight for me was definitely the being-able-to-sneak-a-snack thing.
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: On a Walk in Bird Rock

  11. Our old girl, Chloe, is 15 and is almost completely deaf. She started losing her hearing when Riley was about 8 months old (she’s 4 now). She has hardly ever barked (Chloe that is, definitely NOT Riley…ha!), so hearing the mail truck never set her barker off or anything like that. She never really had any thunder phobia and fireworks didn’t bother her. That being said, is it a little twisted that I actually kind of look forward to the day Riley is older and hard of hearing? She FREAKS out about everything–thunder, fireworks, smoke alarm, security alarm, etc. And she ALWAYS hears that stupid mail truck or UPS/FedEx truck and has to go into a barking frenzy.

    The only downside to Chloe’s deafness is that she is never paying attention to her humans…she’s always been extremely independent and would only do her tricks for a treat; no treat–no trick! So, she never really looks to see if we’re calling her to come in from the backyard or anything like that…so we have to actually walk out there to her to get her attention. Then, half the time, she just ignores us and goes back to eating grass or dirt…haha!

    I agree though, it is sad at first to see their hearing go, but I (like you) am looking on the bright side! 🙂
    Elyse and Riley recently posted..Third Laser Therapy Treatment–and 4th of July Strategies!

    • I know what you mean about the hearing – it’s sad, but it is really a relief to know that storms won’t bother her anymore!

      (And I get the yard thing too… sometimes I just have to go out to where Bella is to let her know it’s time to come back inside.)

  12. I’m a deaf dog with a happy life. Mom says that the hearing dogs are her special-needs furkids. Check out my website for resources on training deaf dogs. There’s also stories and information about hearing dogs too!

  13. Great and thoughtful article on a reality many us will (or have already) faced with our pets. And so wonderful that you are taking a positive outlook and doing everything you can to help Bella out.

    I think my oldest cat is now having both some hearing and vision issues, but she doesn’t seem too bothered by them. And she walks right up to the vacuum cleaner now, where before she would have scrambled for a hiding spot with the rest of the kitties!

    I have had two dogs with hearing loss that came with their old age. That means they lived long lives, which is wonderful! I quickly realized in both cases that they relied more on their vision to keep up with their human family. The day this realization really sunk in was with my first cairn terrier, when I had been gardening in the front yard, with her watching me through the glass storm door, but was able to come in through a back door, go to the kitchen, and then leave again through the back door with her still watching impatiently out the front door. Oh my…

    The two things that helped most were:
    1. Letting other guests in the home know of her situation so that they did not frighten her by touching her from behind, without her knowing they were there.
    2. Using nightlights in the home, after realizing that without them the rooms in the house were like “dark black holes” with her hearing loss and the lights out.
    sassmuffins recently posted..Fireworks 2013!

    • Those are really fantastic tips! I haven’t tried night lights yet, but that is a great idea. I have been making sure to turn extra lights on for Bella so she can get a better sense of where she is.

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