Our Apparently Deaf Dog

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.

DSC04123The 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.

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Closed Captioning

As we have watched the last few episodes of True Detective — which I think has really picked up lately, incidentally — Kish and I have had the same conversation several times:

“What did he say?”

“I don’t know — I couldn’t hear it.”

“You know, I hear that a lot of people are watching this show with the closed captioning feature on their TVs activated.”

The Vince Vaughn character, in particular, seems to specialize in muttering things under his breath, menacingly but incomprehensibly, but we have have trouble understanding many characters on that show.  Is there something about the sound quality of True Detective that just sucks, or have the producers decided that whispered statements fit better with the dark themes of the show?  Maybe the “never mind” theme music is supposed to suggest to viewers that the dialogue really doesn’t matter much, anyway.

When you can’t hear the dialogue on a TV show, there aren’t any good choices.  If you’re watching a recording, you can try to rewind, but you need the deftness of a surgeon to move back to just the right spot without overshooting, and it really wrecks the flow of the narrative even if you are successful.  Or, you can crank the volume up to senior citizen retirement home levels, give up any pretense of clinging to remaining youth, and start going to restaurants at “Early Bird Special” times and using the word “whippersnapper.”  Or, you can activate the closed captioning option — which will expose your obvious lack of technological know-how in trying to find and turn on the option in the first place.

I have no doubt that my hearing acuity has declined over the years, but I wouldn’t say that I’ve got a hearing problem — at least, I don’t think I do.  Does any young whippersnapper out there have trouble following the dialogue on True Detective, too?  Speak up, will you?