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Monday, August 16, 2010

You talkin' to me?

Long-lost Chan here... A small crisis in our extended family prompted me to crawl out from under my rock and seek your advice.

joan pic 003 This is Nick. He belongs to my inlaws, and over the last few months, he's gone deaf. He's 11 and has had a few health challenges, so it isn't a huge surprise, but he and his pack need a little help dealing with this situation. My inlaws have had at least one other deaf dog, and for whatever reason, they all transitioned with ease then but not now.

Nick does live with Shadow, a younger sheltie. Shadow went to live with my inlaws after his owner died two years ago, and Shadow is still accustomed to being the center of attention. Nick has always been content to let Shadow run the show, but lately, Nick has been snapping at Shadow when Shadow tries to (obnoxiously nippy) initiate play as he always has. That's problem #1, because Shadow has been over-bearing with my own (female) dogs. Neither dog would really hurt even a flea, but stranger things have happened when a dog is confused and/or hurting...

#2 is just my mother inlaw's desire to be able to have some idea where in the house Nick might be when he doesn't appear when she calls. Their first deaf sheltie of ages past wore a bell, but she's also concerned that Shadow will bark his fool head off at the bell.

Lastly, they just want to keep Nick safe. He's a bright boy and is quickly learning the new hand signals my inlaws are teaching him, such as two fingers on his nose then point to the human eyes means "stay where I can see you" when they take him outside. (We live in podunk, for those who don't follow my blog. Lots of land and at Nick's house, a big, grassy front yard.)

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We had one dog with some hearing loss, so both of my fur-girls were trained from the get-go to voice and visual commands, but they're working on that...


  1. Maybe he might not see well either.
    Deafness is a problem for some dogs and others sail through it. Our pups were always taught hand signals along with the voice of command. Started from an early age.

  2. I don't think that Nick's snapping is so bad, IMO - if he doesn't want to play, there are few ways a geriatric dog can let a younger dog know. Is Shadow getting the idea, or is it only making him try harder?

    The best thing to probably do is to separate them when they can't be supervised, to ensure that no fights break out.

    They won't know if the bell will work until they give it a try - it's possible that Shadow will grow accustomed to it and not bark..

    Best of luck in figuring this out - I hope someone's advice really helps them.

  3. It must be scary losing your hearing. Other dogs can sneak up on you. I live with an older greyhound who snaps at me sometimes when I try to bite his long horse legs. But he never really hurts me.

  4. I have a feeling he is scared and doesn't know how else to react except by snapping! One of my dogs wear a bell and the other 4 don't seem bothered by it.

  5. First - I would probably have Nick checked out by a Vet to see if there is some other problem. Since he is older, he could be having problems with vision and arthritis - both common in older dogs. It could be bothering him to move to play and with vision loss - Nick mite be getting surprised and scared of sudden movements. But as Sam said - if Shadow is leaving Nick alone when he snaps then probably not much to worry about. I also agree with Sam about the bell - won't knowuntil your inlaws try. And again I agree with separating them when they can't be supervised. I know it is difficult sometimes to watch our furry companions grow older - my little Oreo was almost deaf, blind and incontinent before he crossed the Rainbow Bridge at a little over 16 years.

  6. I haven't had a deaf dog, though Morgan's vision and hearing are both a little worse than they once were.

    I agree that a young dog can annoy an older dog that has aches and pains and possibly other issues. The snapping is a warning to leave him alone. Young dogs don't always listen to their elders and the older dog needs to have a safe place to get away from the youngster when he needs to rest. That's where the owner needs to step in and provide such a place.

  7. I'm sorry I don't have any experience with deaf dogs to offer any advice but my prayers are with your in-laws and their pups that they are able to come up with solutions so that everyone feels secure, safe and loved~All the things our pups give us!
    Kelly & Crew

  8. Following you from the Saturday Pet Blog Hop! Love it if you'd stop by and say hi!
    Beth @ Two Monkeys & a Washtub
    I have two great doggy giveaways going on that could use some entries too! (They're both linked in my pet hop post)

  9. Awww I bet Nick is scared too since he can't hear. The poor thing. I have a 3 and a half year old Sheltie and I didn't know they are prone to being deaf.
    My first cat became deaf at about age 18. Broke my heart. Has to be so hard for them
    I found you on the Saturday blog hop and it is a pleasure to meet another Sheltie lover. I will be sure to follow you.

    Cat Chat

  10. Woof! Woof! Happy BLOG HOP Weekend. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  11. A great blog! I really love the header fun. Nice to meet you on the blog hop :)


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