a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: The Deef Dog

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The Deef Dog

What's so odd about the deafness now is how suddenly it seems to have gone from "maybe he's losing a little hearing" to "he can't hear anything at all." I wonder how he ever was responding to me last weekend? We were practicing his "lefts" and "rights", which I haven't done with hand signals in ages, and he seemed to get about the same percentage correct as usual. I practiced calling his name as we'd head out to the ring and give him a goodie when he'd turn his head towards me, and he'd turn sharply when I called him.

But now, even in a quiet room, even if he's seen me with goodies a minute ago, there is no response when I say his name in any tone or volume. It's as if a wall had suddenly dropped into place where before there was merely shadow.

What got me really thinking was Thursday night when I was in the hot tub and he brought his toy over. I told him to "get out, tunnel!", where the tunnel is about 10 feet away from the hot tub. He just looked at me and the toy. I used hand signals. I used arm signals. I spoke really loudly and said it several times. I used "turn, tunnel," and he'd turn with the hand signal but in a complete circle. I stood up. I got out of the hot tub. Finally when we were about 2 feet away from the tunnel, he managed to get into it. I hadn't established at that point that he really wasn't hearing anything; I was still thinking that it was context and for some reason he hadn't figured out how to do what I wanted while I was in a bathing suit. (Worse confusion has been known to occur.)

But the thing that got my gears in the hearing direction was when I realized that Tika, in the background, was doing everything I commanded or signaled Jake to do, including turning, getting out, going into the tunnel repeatedly (even though I use "through" for her instead of "tunnel")--clearly my body language and commands were quite unambiguous.

Today we practiced doing some agility moves with mostly body language. I'm trying to invent some body language and hand/arm signals for things he always did on voice command. I'm starting to practice with some very tight turns coming out of tunnels to try to get him thinking about turning out of tunnels instead of blasting through (a whole different mentality and not sure it's entirely correct).

This will be interesting--

Meanwhile, back at the hot tub, Tika had fetched her own favorite Tika Toy (comes in a variety of favorite Finchester House/Taj Mutt Hall colors), Casey absconded with it, and the next morning when I came out--its handle now matched the previous one that Casey had absconded with a couple of months ago. What is it with the little black dog and handles? I guess every dog has his affectation; Remington's was removing eyes and noses from stuffed animals.

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