Life with a deaf puppy

By isak, May 6, 2010


It has been decided that Boogee is VERY hard of hearing. It’s not until I have reached my maximum shouting volume that he notices I am speaking. By then, every other animal in the house has run to the farthest point from me and I wonder if the neighbors down the street have also heard me.

However, knowing he is deaf does not stop me from talking to him — “no, Boogee,” “stop that, Boogee,” “Boogee, leave the cat alone” and so on — only to halfway chuckle at myself for talking to a deaf dog.

Deafness in a puppy is a challenge.
I have several older dogs that can “show” him a lot of the ropes, but there is a lot of instruction puppies get from us on what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

So… I am embarking on sign language. The big thing is to remember what sign will mean what forever. Wouldn’t be fair to change the meaning of a sign somewhere down the road. How would Boogee ever understand that?

Some are pretty self-explanatory, I think. “Come” is a slap on the side of my thigh or squatting down and opening my arms wide as I face him. That one makes him run to me pretty fast and is always rewarded with a big hug and a kiss which he turns into an opportunity to lick me silly.

“No” is pretty obvious, too. I shake my head from side-to-side as we do when we gesture “no” and I wag my finger from side-to-side. If he has an accident in the house, I point to it, then do the wags. He plops down on the floor where he is and looks away, then he glances at me sideways to see if I am still looking at him.

I think he also barks louder because of his lack of hearing. Even people on the phone have commented on how loudly he barks when they hear him.

It’s often said that the other senses make up for the deficiency of one of the senses. If that is true, then Boogee makes it up with his sense of smell. He can smell the tiniest kibble of dry food from 25 feet… so anything closer makes him even crazier. That means that ANYTHING edible on a countertop has his rapt attention. Thank goodness he has short legs.

Boogee is a Lab/Basset Hound mix. He is black and has Lab feet. But he has the short legs, long ears, snout and round butt of a hound. At seven months, he weighs about 50 pounds.

So imagine the reckless energy of puppyhood in a body that cannot hear you yelling for him to stop. Yep, that’s what life is like right now. He is about seven months old, so we are slowly making our way through puppyhood.

On the good side, once he falls asleep, not much wakes him because he cannot hear us to be disturbed.
So the adage about letting “a sleeping dog lie” has huge importance to me. As we speak, he is winding down into his mid-day nap. Thank goodness for the little things, like naps.

I haven’t any recent photos. Boogee knocked the tripod over with the camera on it. It didn’t seem like a hard fall, but the side of the lens took the impact. For a day, I could jiggle the lens and still make the camera work, but it has since just shut down. So there are no recent photos. The one I have included is 2-3 months old.

What do you think?

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