Living With A Deaf Pet: How We Acclimate To Make Sure They Don’t Miss One Of Their Senses

Episode4 | 17:00 mins

Episode four of the Happy Tailz Pets podcast is brought to you by the Happy Tailz Pet Nutrition Workshop. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, October 8th, 5 p.m. Pacific and 8 p.m. EST. If you have an interest in joining us on the Happy Tailz Pets Nutrition podcast, for more information on the Happy Tailz Pet Nutrition Workshop, you can email us at or join us on our Instagram @Happy_Tailz_ and drop us a message. We’ll get you on the list and make sure you receive all the information. And now let’s get to Episode Four of the Happy Tailz Pets Podcast.

Brian: Hello again, welcome to the Happy Tailz Podcast, episode four. I’m Brian.

Beth: And I’m Beth.

Brian: Thank you again for joining us this week. We have really appreciated all of the interesting support that all of our readers and listeners have shown us since we’ve launched over the last few weeks. And we really enjoy bringing you this podcast. This week, we thought we would spend a little time speaking about our own personal experiences with some of our dogs, and in particular, some of our more senior dogs. We’ve been fortunate enough to, over the course of the years, with our five Golden Retrievers. We’ve been fortunate enough to have them live long, healthy, happy lives. But as sometimes happens, our older dogs, namely our oldest one Darby, who’s going to be 14.

Beth: 14 on Christmas Eve, yeah.

Brian: 14, on Christmas Eve. Over the last six months to a year, we’ve noticed that her hearing has, it’s been–

 Beth: It’s been nonexistent, let’s just cut to the chase. The girl can’t hear.

Brian: It’s been fading to the point where it’s hard for her to hear much of anything anymore. So, it’s caused us, as a family to make accommodations for her when we need to get her attention.

Beth: And this is a special week, isn’t it?

Brian: That’s right. Interestingly enough, in addition to it being National Dog Week, it is also Deaf Dog Awareness Week.

Beth: Isn’t that cool? I didn’t even know that was a thing, Deaf Dog Awareness Week. But we can for sure speak to that issue. But also the website Happy Tailz Pets, got to publish today, and it’s called “Deaf Dog Awareness Week. How to Live with a Deaf Dog.” So, we thought we would share some of the things that we do with Darby. And Darby, for those of you that have been listening to our previous podcasts, is the one that’s always barking, Darby always sounds hoarse. It’s the strangest thing since she went deaf. Her bark is now hoarse, and I’m not really sure whether or not the two are connected or if she’s just kind of getting some floppy epiglottis activity from being older. You know, the epiglottis is the little flap in the back of your throat that comes down over your windpipe so that whenever you’re chewing, your food goes down into your stomach instead of down into your lungs. That’s the epiglottis. So, she’s either getting a floppy epiglottis just from aging, or she’s got some kind of connection between being deaf and her bark sounding a little weird. I mean, as you know, people that have hearing impairments, oftentimes their speech is a little garbled and that may be what’s going on with Darby, but we’re not really sure.

Brian: Yes, so we just recently published an article titled “Deaf Dog Awareness Week. How To Live with a Deaf Dog.” On the website, you’ll see a beautiful picture of a dog name Nitro. And within our article, we highlight the work that Christina Lee does with her organization called Deaf Dogs Rock.

Beth: And she was kind enough to engage in an interview for this article with one of our staff writers. And we’re very much appreciative of the fact that she took the time to do that for us today.

Brian: Yes, so Deaf Dogs Rock was the spirit of the organization. It’s traced back to her adopting an abandoned deaf boxer pup named Nitro. And from there, she formed a non-profit charitable organization and has been committed to rescuing deaf dogs and finding them forever homes since 2012.

Beth: That’s an amazing mission, one that we can definitely get behind in Happy Tailz Pets and also personally. So, when Darby started to, when we started to notice that we might have an issue with Darby going deaf, we just thought she was lazy, kind of ignoring us, not really interested in engaging with her other siblings. But that was not the case at all. We finally came to realize that she really just couldn’t hear us very well, whenever we called her or talked to her. She’s always been a super active dog or a little speed demon, loves to chase the ball and, you know, do all kinds of fast cutting. I know, we’ve talked about her in the past how she blew out an ACL at nine and had an ACL repair while she was cutting around chasing the ball with her siblings, and she has been extremely healthy, like a really healthy dog. So, we were obviously, oh, and there she is, again, she knows we’re talking about her. But she was always just a really healthy dog. And so, when she started to go deaf, you know, that was kind of hard to accept. We had some other health issues, like I just mentioned with her, but her being deaf meant that she wasn’t fully engaged with us. And so one of the things, and that you know, that’s very sad, because you never want to think that your dog’s not completely engaged with you, especially when you’ve had one as long as we’ve had Darby.

So, we started to do some things to make her life easier. And one of them was our version of canine sign language. Now, I know that we didn’t do this right. We didn’t do this in the proper way. And it wasn’t true, technically true sign language. But we would make sure we looked her right in the eye. And we would use signals with our hands. If we wanted her to come, we would make a sweeping motion with our hands and she has learned that, that means, “Come on! Let’s go.” We still mouth the words. We still say, “Come on Darby.” And we’ll put, yeah, she’s going to bark for this whole thing. She keeps hearing us say her name, which is so funny. Or maybe she’s not hearing us say her name. See, that’s it, that’s the other piece of this. We’re not sure at which pitches she can hear. Because we think she could, like when we try to speak very loud and high, we sometimes get a response from her. So, a lot of times, that’s what we do whenever she’s in the yard, for example, she’s a good distance away from us. We try to get as high pitched as we can, because my understanding is that the higher the decibel level, the larger their ability to comprehend from a hearing standpoint. So, not only did we develop this hand motion, we also developed things to tell her to stop, by putting our hands out in front of us. We started to smack on our legs when we wanted her to come to us.

Brian: Clap loud.

Beth: We clap really loud whenever she has her back turn toward us. So, we’ve, I don’t know if we’ve trained her or she’s trained us maybe. But we have definitely made accommodations. One of the things that’s really interesting is that she was always a big watchdog. And now she sleeps on a bed in the master bedroom. She’s the only one that sleeps in there, because the other dogs are just too, we can’t sleep if they’re in there because they’re moving around. They’re rocking, they’re rolling, they’re messing around with each other. But with Darby, she just comes in there and she just lays down and goes to sleep. And all the other dogs could be all the way around her. I could get up in the middle of the night. Brian could get up to you know, take the other dogs out and she would like legit just sleep through it all. So, that’s been something that we’ve had to get accustomed to. But you know, you make accommodations. She’s older and she has this limitation now and while we’re super sad that she can’t engage with us, with our voices anymore, we just try to spend a lot more time down on the floor with her, hugging her, holding her. Like I never ever walked by her that I don’t pull her head against my leg and like rub her ears. Because I just think that she’s not getting one of her senses met, and so I tried to overcompensate like physically, by really engaging her physically and petting or rubbing her belly and rubbing her backside and everything like that. But it’s been a process, she’s still you know, super active. She was chasing the Kong today, for those of you that they’re lovers of the Kong, I mean my guys are because they don’t chew everything up. But she was chasing the Kong today, and that’s like, you know, I was starting to cry, because she has so many limitations now with her ACL repair and being deaf and her bark sounds all funky. But she’s an amazing dog, and she’s given us amazing joy.

Brian: And with her advanced age, we also try to keep her on one floor in the house, or as we used to live, essentially on three levels, where more times than not living off of one floor now to make it easier for Darby to go in and out, without having to manage a lot of stairs. As Beth said, there are accommodations as partners that we need to make, you know, to accommodate our pets, as age. And oftentimes if there’s a hearing issue that comes down to visual commands, rather than verbal commands, and in the article that we just posted, we also touch on not only how we communicate with our dogs. But if you have more than one dog in your house and one or more happened to have a hearing impairment, how does the dogs communicate with one another? So, we have some good information in the article of some pet owners that have deaf dogs in their house and how they communicate with one another. Which is really interesting, and one last thing on the article Christina mentions how the dogs stick to their humans like a second shadow. If they have an issue with their hearing, because that’s just one less sense that they have to count on.

Beth: [13:03] Except who could tell the difference because they follow us around like shadows, it’s a big trail. Like when we go from one room to the other, it’s like me and five guys behind me or Brian, the guys behind him, they always follow us around, like that’s what I don’t know if that’s very indicative of the goal.

Brian: [13:21] So, the point of the of the article, again, is just, it takes patience and a willingness to learn, you know about your animal with their new situation, some of the challenges that they may have as as they age. But with the spirit of Happy Taliz, we are all about helping our pets that we love to live healthier, happier and longer lives.

Beth: [13:46] For sure, one of the other things that I just before we get off I wanted to mention, that may be a sign that your dog’s hearing is diminishing is they start to bark more. I think they get a little bit confused, because they can’t hear themselves bark. So, they keep trying and they bark and they bark and they bark. And we went through a phase with Darby where she’d get up in the middle of the night. And she just started to bark.

Brian: [14:12] Right.

Beth: [14:12] I mean, for like, 15, 20 minutes, she barked, and we would, you know, hold her and snuggle with her, and then she’d fall back to sleep, and then she was fine. But she woke up disoriented, couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t hear her bark. And we’ve gotten through that, but it’s just excessive barking whenever you didn’t have a barker before, and you have an older dog. It’s something to just think about.

Brian: [14:40] That’s right, if you come up behind them and they’re startled, you know, they may react differently than you’re accustomed to. So, they’re going to be situations that come up like that, where we as pet owners just have to again, be patient and have a willingness to learn. Maybe a new normal when it comes to either, you know an older dog that loses her hearing or potentially it could be a puppy that just has, you know, an issue with her hearing from birth.

Beth: [15:12] It’s not only puppies, though, there’s a high incidence, high incidence rather of deafness in all white cats. They don’t even have to be a viral cat, just white cats in general have a very high incidence of deafness, which you wouldn’t necessarily know when they were kittens when you adopt them. But we’ve got a pure white cat. Fortunately, her hearing is completely intact. Her name’s is Noble, by the way. And, you know, she’s all good, but knew when we adopted her there was a risk that she might be deaf, but I’m not sure Brian knew that, but I knew that. I remember.

Brian: [15:48] I remember.

Beth: [15:49] Oh, you know now. But, yeah, so, you know, if you’re looking at adopting a little white kitty cat, not a reason not to, that’s for sure. But you know, just something else to keep in mind. 

So once again, just as a quick reminder, we are holding a pet nutrition workshop on Tuesday, October 8th, 5pm. Pacific 8pm Eastern. If you’d like more information, you can reach out to us by emailing, or visiting us on our Instagram, happy_taliz_, with a Z _ and direct messaging us. We’ll get you on the list and make sure we get you all the required information. So, thank you very much for joining us tonight for episode four of the Happy Taliz Pets Podcast.

Brian: [16:46] Thank you again.

Beth: [16:47] Oh, don’t forget about those wet noses and wagging tails. See you.

Brian: [16:53] Take care.

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