Last week hubby was working later hours so we were able to take Elvis in to the vet together. It was for a routine vaccination but we finally got official confirmation that our baby boy is officially deaf. Not hard of hearing but stone deaf. We’ve had him for 13 months and for a large part of that we’ve had suspicions that he couldn’t hear. We didn’t want to believe it but now we know for sure. We’re not devastated or sad at this knowledge. He has adapted so well, he’s as good or better than any hearing dog we’ve ever had. His disposition is sweet as pie all the time. He is happy 100% of the time which isn’t the case for the average dog. He’s always joyful and gets along with every single person and dog he’s ever met. It makes me wonder if he has that personality because of being deaf or in spite of it. Back in March, we took him to the St. Patrick’s Parade in Erin, WI. We marveled at how he handled the crowds, other animals and noise so well. Now we know. Most dogs would’ve been overwhelmed by the crowding conditions and noise level. He did great!
Elvis has always wanted to be right next to me, he insists on sitting or laying next to me at all times. I just thought he was an especially loving little guy. Instead I figured out he does that so he knows when I move or leave. Even when I’m cooking in the kitchen, he likes to lay on my feet. When he barks, which isn’t often, his bark is so shrill, it’s almost ear piercing. He doesn’t realize how he sounds since he can’t hear himself. We’ve clapped behind his head, snapped our fingers, meowed, whistled and no reaction. He is very alert but only visually. If a light goes on upstairs, he looks up and may even go upstairs to see who’s up there. The other dogs pay no attention when lights are turned on. He is very hard to teach. I’ve tried getting him to shake hands which was always easy for all the other dogs to learn. I’ve tried several times a day with treats, without, etc. & he doesn’t catch on. We use hand signals with him and he will sit or lay but I think it’s more from mimicking the other dogs. I look back on how frustrated I was earlier this year with him. He knocks a lot of things over and has no idea since he can’t hear that something fell. I had so much trouble getting his attention and keeping his attention when taking pictures or trying to teach him tricks. Even now if he’s in the backyard, with his back to me, I can’t always get him back in the house. I call the other 2 and they come right away. If he sees them come in, he follows. If he’s looking at something on the ground or the neighbor’s dog is by the fence, he won’t come in. I have tried waving toys from on the deck, pounding on the window and deck railing and nothing. Now I have to walk out there and wave until he sees me, then he’ll come in.
Elvis follows the lead of the other dogs constantly. When they jump up, he jumps up. When they run to the door, he runs to the door. He gets along great with his 2 sisters and I bet they have no idea he can’t hear. I’m sure it doesn’t matter to them. Elvis wouldn’t make a very good watchdog since you have to touch him to wake him up. Sometimes when he’s sleeping hard, if you move and bump him slightly, he jumps up almost frantic. He looks side to side trying to figure out what’s happening. Amber (our Shiba Inu) is our watchdog so we’ve got that covered.
I think back on how he was a rescue dog and how lucky we are to have gotten him. If he had ended up with another family, they might not have kept him once they figured out he was deaf. He’s ours and we’ll keep him until his last breath or ours, whichever comes first. “Who rescued who?” is a decal I saw on a car while walking the dogs. It is so appropriate. We saved Elvis but he saved us too. The vet thinks he is part Dalmatian in addition to being a Jack Russell Terrier. Deafness seems to be most common in Dalmatians due to inbreeding. My mom is almost completely deaf. Since childhood she’s had profound hearing loss but was able to cope. Even working as a telephone operator which is an incredible feat. She didn’t start wearing hearing aids until she was about 71. They help her somewhat but she still misses a lot. She has relied on lip reading her whole life but as she’s gotten older she’s gradually losing that ability. It’s funny how life works out. Due to mom’s situation, we are more receptive to having a hearing impaired dog than someone else might be. All we can do is treat him like part of the family and love him unconditionally.