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Friday, April 20, 2018

Hearing - or Not Hearing

I am sick - which is a bummer.  But I've also had a chance to experience first-hand something that I counsel so many people about - dogs losing their hearing, or dogs with partial hearing.

My left ear has been clogged now from this cold for several days.  I am not hearing normally from that side.  While this is annoying for me, I had a revelation yesterday.  And then I started to pay more attention to what I was hearing and not hearing.

Sounds that normally I would not pay attention to, or would discount easily and go on with my day, were startling me.  I couldn't recognize what the sound was or where it was coming from.  It's unsettling to hear something and not know what it is.  

Each time I went to investigate, I found out the sound was one that I hear every day and easily would have known what it was from a distance.  Because I would have recognized the sound, it would have been very easy to go on with my day.  

Dogs that are losing their hearing must go through this same thing.  How unsettling for them.  Of course, on an intellectual level I already knew this was true - but experiencing it for myself allowed me to put an actual emotional experience with it.  

I felt myself startle, hold my breath and try to listen harder to figure out the noise I was hearing.  I felt the compulsion to know and went searching to find out what it was.  I felt the unsettled feeling of hearing unfamiliar sounds.  My dogs do the same, and they may jump up barking and carrying on because they've heard something unusual that they can't identify - something that may be a threat and they should warn us about.

Dogs born with partial hearing won't always be able to recognize or pinpoint where a sound is coming from.  Dogs with ear infections or other conditions that affect their ears may become more fearful or reactive as they deal with things not sounding the same and safe to them.  And dogs losing their hearing too.  We have no way to know exactly what they are hearing at any given point in that process.  

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