Wednesday May 29, 2013 was the first day that I realized my little “Jake Man” was deaf. “Jake” is a small mixed breed terrier that I adopted from a shelter in Arizona when I was 19. We have been inseparable since the day that I adopted him almost 13 years ago. On that day I sat on the couch talking to him but he nervously licked my face instead of his normal head cocks back and forth. I could not pin point what was going on but he was definitely not acting like himself.
A few days prior to my discovery, family and friends had been in and out of our house. I noticed he was really nervous and assumed it was from all of the commotion but as we sat on the couch, I quickly realized something else was wrong.
Jake was the dog that listened to my every word, as I spoke he always cocked his head back and forth listening for words like “treat” and “walk”; but today he was trembling and avoiding eye contact with me. Scared, I called my husband in and we quickly did some diagnostics by clapping and calling his name but we did not get a response. I cried and Jake hid for about a week before he seemed to adjust to his new condition.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
It has now been a little over a year and we have both adjusted and learned a few new routines. He can no longer go off leash in the park but at his age, he isn’t up for a lot of running. Instead he prefers to take long slow walks when it is not too hot outside, so he can stop and smell all of the flowers. His sense of smell has increased and for a second I thought he got his hearing back, because he seemed to hear the treat bag open even when he was all the way upstairs, sound asleep. He quickly picked up on a few hand signals and also watches our Labrador retriever “Maggie”. If “Maggie” barks, he jumps up and barks too. We wake him slowly up by gently tapping next to him, the vibrations wake him up before we pet or pick him up so he does not get startled.
If you have a deaf dog we would love to celebrate your story in appreciation of Deaf Dog Awareness Week. Deaf dogs truly love with their hearts and not their ears.