Which Dogs Are More Prone to Deafness and Blindness — and One That Knows Sign Language You Can Adopt

By Hagerman, Jack | Pasadena Star-News, April 22, 2019 | Go to article overview

Which Dogs Are More Prone to Deafness and Blindness — and One That Knows Sign Language You Can Adopt


Hagerman, Jack, Pasadena Star-News


I recently took my dog Oliver to a new groomer. His usual stylist was booked solid until the end of the month, so I figured I’d try a place closer to my office. He’s a long-haired dachshund, so every year around this time, I have him shaved down completely. He’s more comfortable when it’s hot out, and the cut makes him look 10 years younger. It’s a win-win!

When I came to pick him up, the groomer carried him out and handed him to me. She had that look people get when they aren’t sure how to share bad news. Ollie looked terrific and his little tail was wagging wildly as though he had had the best time of his life — so I was a little puzzled by her expression.

“Ollie is just a joy,” she said, “I wish all dogs were this easy to groom. He’s just the sweetest.”

Her kind statement didn’t seem to match her facial expression though, so I asked, “So everything went OK? Or is something wrong?”

She paused, searching for the right words.

“I think Ollie might be deaf,” she said looking down at him with pity. “It’s pretty common for dogs his age, but I thought you should know.”

Oh. I guess I forgot the mention that when I filled out his forms. Oopsie!

“He is deaf,” I confirmed, “and blind, too. I completely forgot to put that on the form. I’m sorry! To be honest, I often forget that he is deaf and blind in the first place.”

“You forget?” she said, incredulous.

“He doesn’t make a big deal about it, so why should I?” I joked.

That’s the great thing about dogs. They’re adaptable and swiftly compensate by using their other senses to navigate the world. It’s pretty amazing actually. In Ollie’s case, what he lacks in eyesight and hearing, he well makes up for with his sense of smell.

He still loves to go for walks (preferably in a straight line with no walls or cactus along the way), plays with his chew toys and likes to sniff out treats hidden around the house or office.

It does sometimes occur to me that I have a dog with special needs, but for the most part, he’s just a completely normal dog who happens to bump into furniture occasionally and doesn’t come when you call him.

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that dogs with predominantly white coats can be prone to deafness? True story.

What does a white coat have to do with hearing loss? The ability to hear is made possible by a special layer of cells within the inner ear. …

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