It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that our dog Kasey may be dealing with deafness.
If true, it’s not surprising, because Kasey’s getting to be of pretty advanced age. She’s a rescue dog, so we’re not exactly sure how old she is, but the vet estimates from her teeth that she’s probably somewhere around 14 or 15. Lately she’s experiencing some of the gimpiness, gastric, and bladder problems that you see in older dogs, and she spends a bigger portion of her day sleeping, too.
The apparent deafness, though, seems to be a more recent development. I’ve particularly noticed it this week, while Kish has been on the road. It used to be that when I would get home from work Kasey would hear me walking up the steps and the key rattling in the door and come to the foyer to greet me with a few welcoming wags of her tail. Now she doesn’t, and when I call her she doesn’t come, either, so I have to search the house to find her. Usually she’s up in the upstairs bedroom. As always, she’s happy to see me when I come into her field of vision, so I’m guessing that the change in habit has less to do with diffidence about the arrival of the Old Boring Guy and more to do with not hearing me as I come in.
There are other potential signs of hearing problems, too. Kasey is terrified of thunderstorms, but lately it’s only the loudest peals of thunder that seem to bother her. She doesn’t come running like she used to when the clatter of the bowls in her feeding area indicates that food is being laid out for her enjoyment. She seems to bark more, and I wonder if that is because hearing herself bark is one way of interrupting her increasingly quiet world.
There’s no problem with living with a hearing-impaired dog, really — you just need to make sure that she sees what you are doing and can then follow the patterns of behavior that we’ve established over years of living together. She doesn’t need to hear “time for bed” if she sees you heading up the stairs, and the sight of her leash is as effective a communication about going for a walk as a verbal command. If she’s adjusting to a changing world, we certainly can do that as well. Kasey may end up as deaf as a post, but we’ll love her just the same.