A Tribute To Our Furry Friends Who Can’t Hear You But Still Love You
As humans, we rely on our five senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing to interpret and perceive the world around us. The same applies to dogs, but they have a profoundly better sense of smell and hearing. But what happens when you take one of these significantly important senses away? This article will discuss deafness in dogs, elaborate on the difficulties deaf dogs go through, and commemorate this year’s “Deaf Dog Awareness Week” which begins on September 19th and ends on September 25th of 2021.
A Holiday That Helps
So what is Deaf Dog Awareness Week all about? As the name implies, it is a 7 day long pet holiday (typically the last week of September) created to support and raise awareness for deaf dogs across the world. Many people know about special needs dogs, more specifically deaf dogs. But, few people take the time to understand special needs dogs and what they experience on a daily basis. By celebrating Deaf Dog Awareness Week we not only remind people about these special needs dogs, but we help educate people on the topic of dogs with deafness. By keeping this conversation of deaf dog awareness going we can begin to better understand, support, and relate to these beautiful creatures with special needs. To learn about other awareness-based pet holidays, check out our website articles like Dog House Repair Month.
Deafness In Dogs
It’s difficult to imagine what our lives would be like without being able to hear virtually anything. Yet, many people and dogs all around the world have learned to adapt and adjust to their surroundings without having the vitally important sense of hearing. In the U.S. there are roughly 35,000 dogs deaf in both ears and about 120,000 dogs deaf in one ear. In most cases deafness in dogs is hereditary due to a genetic defect. This is more commonly known as congenital deafness and is usually associated with the piebald or merle coat patterns of your dog’s fur. According to The Deaf Dog Education Fund, “The most common cause of congenital deafness is pigment-related. If there is unpigmented skin in the inner ear, the nerve endings atrophy and die off in the first few weeks of the puppy’s life, resulting in deafness.” This is because hearing cells and pigment producing cells come from the same stem cells, so if a dog has no pigment, the chances of its hearing cells causing deafness increases. Essentially any dog with white in its fur or blue in its eyes is more likely to experience some form of deafness in it’s life. There are also some breeds of dogs that are more susceptible to deafness than others. Some of these breeds include Australian Shepherds, Dalmatians, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Jack Russell Terrier, Maltese, Miniature and Toy Poodle, and Welsh Corgis. Some dogs can also lose their hearing over time due to chronic ear infections, being exposed to loud noises, and simply old age. Now that you know how and why dogs can become deaf, let’s discuss how they operate and deal with deafness.
Struggles Deaf Dogs Go Through
Truthfully being deaf isn’t all that bad because this lack of a sensory skill will actually heighten your dogs other sensory skills including sight, smell, taste, and touch. This is your dog’s physical body adjusting and adapting to its circumstances and environment. Typically deaf dogs behave very normally compared to non-deaf dogs as they can still be trained, are very sociable, and love attention. The most noticeable difference with deaf dogs is the way we train and communicate with them. Deaf dogs obviously don’t respond well to verbal commands, but rather rely on hand gestures and hand signals. Many dog trainers and owners utilize American Sign Language or ASL as a primary form of communication with their deaf dogs. Even though a dog can’t use ASL to communicate back, they can still interpret and understand basic sign language signals. Being a deaf dog isn’t necessarily an easy life. But, with a patient and dedicated owner, a deaf dog can live a good quality life just like any other dog. For more information deaf dogs and how to live with them, check out the VCA animal hospital website.
What You Can Do To Help
As a pet lover, it’s up to us to provide and continue the support for deaf dogs all around the world. Deaf dogs have a voice, but it’s up to dog lovers like us to make sure it’s heard. One of the most ideal ways to support deaf dogs is by adopting a deaf dog yourself! However adoption is a serious responsibility and not everyone has the means or time for it. Another great way to support deaf dogs is to keep the conversation going within your community. Tell your friends, family, pet supply store employees, or even strangers at your local dog park. The more we talk about it, the more people will remember it and hopefully act on it too. Finally, another excellent way to support deaf dogs is to simply make a donation to your local animal shelter or animal hospital. It may not seem like much, but every little bit counts.
Although deafness in dogs may not seem like an extremely prevalent issue, it affects more lives than you think. From the deaf dog itself, to the owner who cares for it, to every person that dog interacts with, it’s life and the way it lives matters. Deaf dogs can feel and love the same way any other dog can. When dealing with a deaf dog, be patient, be consistent/ clear with your communication, and above all else be loving to these beautiful creatures with special needs. Don’t be afraid of deaf dogs and the responsibility that comes with them. Deaf dogs have a place in this world and that place could very well be by your side, part of your family, and in your heart.