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Observations on dogs with early hearing loss

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I never observed this with Megan. She has never been a head-cocker and her posture and body language after losing her hearing was the same as before.

 

Always a bit skittish about sudden movements (especially hand movements), she is even more so about things that startle her - like walking up behind her and touching her to get her attention, or touching her when she is asleep to wake her up. I think that is simply because she is absolutely unaware I am there when I touch her whereas before, when she could hear, she would be aware to some degree or another of my approach, even when asleep. Of course, she sleeps pretty soundly now that she's about to turn 14!

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Bonnie was never jumpy (her sister is a certified therapy dog, which reflects how laid back they all are), but she sleeps very hard, and her hearing problem is becoming more and more pronounced.

 

Back in Feb., when the the third vet finally found deep in her ear some gunky black stuff, she would shake her head often and not just cock it but turn it very strongly to one side. It went away, we got the ear cleaned and now she is starting to do that again. She does the normal cocking when puzzled at something, but also she just turns her head, twists kind of.

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Some dogs have different habits, like cocking their head or not.

 

Could she possibly have more of that "gunk" building up again?

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It does not seem so, the vet checked her very thoroughly with the ear-thingy yesterday,and said both ear were very clean. I guess, i will have save up and make a trek to the far-away Warsaw clinic.

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There is this wise saying "keep your eye on the ball". But did you know that dogs also keep their ear on the ball? :) I didn't.

 

You know how dogs anticipate where the ball is flying and try to get ahead of it to catch it. Well, believe it or not, you also need ears for that. Bonnie keeps losing track of the ball I throw her. And of course she can't hear it falling so she has no idea where it is. I had to change to throwing a flat curve so that she chases it a every stage.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10209115106972668&set=a.1735761631719.86052.1168927161&type=3

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I must say Bonnie is not taking the situation in her stride as I would have liked her to, for her sake. The clever little munchkin knows "dummy" tasks from real work, and she is frustrated that she is not the go-to dog anymore. It is also frustrating for me because Darine just doesn't quite cut quite it in harder tasks. And the third border collie is 11 yo and her eyesight is failing.

 

And I find it a little difficult to make myself work with Bonnie, because it is kind of heart-breaking knowing what she was, and what she is now. But we plod along. And sometimes, like in the video, everything goes fine and everybody is happy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv7nweyottQ&feature=youtu.be

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I did end up placing my EOD affected dog in a pet home. I tried to use him for work after he went deaf, but after some dangerous near misses I stopped. Of course, this made him super frustrated when I took the other dogs out to work. He started to try to break out of the house to join us, so I had to crate him. Then he started to bloody his mouth and break his teeth on the crate door if I took another dog out to work. His new owner loves him to death. They travel all over the USA together and I get reports about how well he is doing. I know he is happy, but I cried for a long time after he left. Knowing it's for the best doesn't make the decision any easier.

 

PS, what kind of sheep are those? They are fast!

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Liz,

It's so good you found a good solution for your dog, in spite of its being a very tough one for you.

 

Bonnie was born in our home and she would just whither away if we got separated. She never leaves my side on her own. I haven't developed a bond like that with any other dog, which was partly why it had been so great to work with her - she really tuned in to what I wanted of her, often tweaking my commands to suit the situation better and accomplish what was needed. I had tried to teach her not just commands but to understand the task, and it worked out great. She always was the one to save my hide at trials :) .

 

When I go to work with another dog, she suffers, but she does not go crazy since that was something I had been getting her used to since she was a pup, and with many dogs coming to train she's had a lot of practice in self control.

 

I also bought her a doggie ring, because she often missed where the ball went when I would throw it, but I roll the ring and so we play with it together. So we get by.

 

 

The sheep are called Skudde, it's an old Prussian breed, now part genetic protection program in Germany. Because Bonnie didn't stop before the lift it may give the impression that she rushed them, but it is not so. Skuddes are very fast and eager to use their speed. They are hardy and good mothers. When I first got them and before they got dogged at all, I invited some more advanced people to to try out with them. Bonnie had to look for them in the forest afterwards :) . Thank goodness that was still when her hearing was not too bad, and the not-so-easy-to-impress sheepdog people were duly impressed.

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A pity how things turned out for Bonnie, especially because of your great working relationship.

 

How old is Darinka by now? My wife has been giving me some criticism about being too hard on a second (or third) dog because of comparing them to that nice first dog one spend a lot of time with building a working relationship with. I think she has a point....

 

Yeah, those skuddes are nice sheep. Having to deal exclusively with Icelandic sheep I sometimes smile at posts on sites like this or Facebook groups where people ask what kind of sheep they should buy to best suit the needs of their particular dogs....;)

You don't have your ouessants anymore? Those were cute.

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How old is Darinka by now? My wife has been giving me some criticism about being too hard on a second (or third) dog because of comparing them to that nice first dog one spend a lot of time with building a working relationship with. I think she has a point....

 

Yeah, those skuddes are nice sheep. Having to deal exclusively with Icelandic sheep I sometimes smile at posts on sites like this or Facebook groups where people ask what kind of sheep they should buy to best suit the needs of their particular dogs.... ;)

You don't have your ouessants anymore? Those were cute.

 

My personal favorites were Cameroonians - super fast but also respond well to a good dog and stand up to a not so good dog. They really give excellent education to a dog in training, and they are not easy :) . Skuddes rarely face a dog when it is warranted, which I am not happy about, but they are good teachers in other respects.

 

No, no more ouessants. Too many c-sections and they had this sort of "dumb" stubbornness. I like a strong sheep, but I don't like a dumb one.

 

Darinka is four and a half. Your wife is certainly right (though Bonnie was my second BC actually). But this thought has always been with me, and I do know Darine got a bit of a raw deal: first, her pedigree is excellent in comparison to Bonnie's, second, Bonnie was a really good dog, third, the time when I needed to rely on Darinka came too early, because of Bonnie's EAOD. But when all is said about the handler shortcomings, Darine was still so very hard to train (and I do have a comparison, since other dogs come to me to learn too), and when you have a difficult job to do and you actually need to rely on your dog, Darine often fails to take the command correctly.

 

So I have one dog that hears but doesn't listen and other that listens but can't hear :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

[ And I really appreciate that Darine wants to do right, she just way overthinks everything and at critical moments when the speed and correctness of execution matters, this is disastrous.]

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You should visit, in my experiece icelandic sheep smell weakness in a dog a mile off. And they will exploit that weakness with no mercy. Armed and dangerous. The main reason that people here value toughness in a dog, and a good grip.

Had a good laugh from that "Hearing dog that doesn't listen" remark :)

Do I remember correctly that you posted a vid once with a crazy hair ram that tried to fell a tree by knocking it several times? One of your camaroons?

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Yes, that was Ramses! :) He did the same thing on reinforced concrete enclosure. The length some males go to to impress the females :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

But he was a grand ram! One of few I've seen that would bodygurad his ewes.

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I owned mine since birth as well and we were very close. I never, ever imagined he would be leaving my home. Seeing him go made me feel physically sick. A week after his new owner took him, a rescue volunteer saw them together. She said they were deeply bonded and looked as if they had been best friends for many years. That made me feel a lot better, but I didn't stop missing him for a long time. I still do really. It was the right choice though.

 

I didn't mean to imply she made the sheep run. I could see how they took off like rockets as soon as they saw a dog coming. They reminded me of Black Belly Barbados sheep for that reason. I love trying out different types of stock with my dogs and seeing how they handle themselves. I think those experiences make for a more well rounded working partner.

 

Anyway, this disease sure is a heartbreaker. I hope the DNA test is finalized soon. Before Frankie's dam died I had collected several DNA samples and saved them. Frankie's new owner has been kind enough to send in samples to various studies as well.

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I owned mine since birth as well and we were very close. ... It was the right choice though.

 

I do believe it was the right choice, and I think I understand what you've been through.

 

 

I didn't mean to imply she made the sheep run.

It wasn't directed at you :) . I made the comment for casual watchers who may think she did.

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Maja, I just have to say I admire and respect your keeping Bonnie regardless, kudo's to you!

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Thank you, Karen, but no kudos are due, since there was no choice for me there to make really, the question just never even came up in our case (no reflection on other people's choices: were Bonnie different, the question might have come up).

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Hitchcock move over. Now it is Bonnie who is the master of suspense, albeit of a different type..

 

The flock stupidly managed to get itself into two separate fields and stayed in the place where they were only separated by a fence, but with no simple way to put them together again. So I had to peel off the one half of the flock, move them away from the others by about 150 m, turn left, then left again, and then straight up back to the other half-flock.

 

The plan was: I walk with Bonnie up to the flock and with me close to her, I can direct her somewhat. So I give her the hand signal to stay with me. She misinterprets it.

 

She takes off like shot on an outrun. I just stand where I was. She peels the one half of the sheep off the fence. Prevents a ewe from committing suicide-by-fence to go the other flock. Brings everybody skudde-fashion at a dead run towards me. I just stand there.

 

They run past me at a gallop to where their shed is ahead. Bonnie hesitates for a second, flanks, turns the flock mid-gallop left and moves them through the gate. Turns them left again and drives them towards the other flock, now invisible. I walk towards them at a comparative snail's pace.

 

Bonnie drives the sheep about 150 m through two gates to where the other half of the in the flock is. Turns them left again and now she drives the entire flock at a steady pace to the end of the field where there is still some grass. By then I am only about 220 m from her.

 

She turns to me, I give her the 'come to me' hand signal, she comes back like a shot. The End :) .

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I have a suicidal ewe-lamb. She takes a running start, uses other sheep as a spring board, hops onto their backs and into the feeder, whereupon she often gets stuck - each bodily protrusion in a different part of the in-between of the feeder bars. And she gets as tangled as the syntax in the previous sentence.

 

Then come woe-full bleating and begging for a rescue. The flock usually wonders off, away form the irritating noise of the bouncing sheep who had it coming anyhow. So when I hear her, I go and extract the sheep. And she, being alone, will keep wanting to stay where she last saw her flock, since it is now about 500 yd and not visible.

 

Then comes Bonnie and drives the ewe quite a bit, but not knowing herself yet where the flock is, she makes some mistakes, while the ewe fights every inch of the way with zeal worthy of a more intelligent decision.

 

So we compromise, and I leave Bonnie with the ewe whom Bonnie holds about half way to the flock, while I go with Darine and fetch the flock from the pasture to the ewe, and they reunite in the middle. And all I say to Bonnie is nothing.

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Good girl, Bonnie!

 

I loved both of these stories. It's great to know she can still be such a clever and useful girl even without being able -- or needing -- to hear you.

 

Of course one of the things that makes these tales so wonderful is your wit when writing them, It's hard for me to believe you're not a native English speaker/writer. B)

 

I used to have a suicidal ewe lamb, too. The flock had just outgrown the combination grain and hay feeder, so while jostling for position for the morning grain feeding, she'd found there was a small triangular space where she could stick her head in under the brace. This worked for a while until she began to grow and her neck wool had become thick enough that she could still push her head in, but she couldn't pull back out. She'd do this every. single. morning without fail, and since I'd feed in the morning and then head straight to work from the barn, I'd come back 9 hours later after work and find her still stuck in the now empty trough bleating her fool head off while the rest of the flock had gone off to graze. Of course I'd have to pull her out so she could get some water and go back to rejoin the flock. It took about a week or so of this (because she never. would. learn) till I came armed with a hammer, some nails and some wire to close that hole up. Then we built a new grain feeder so there was enough room for everyone. :rolleyes:

 

Sheep are funny creatures, and I don't think they're as stupid as many people say they are. But one real flaw in their cognitive process is that they don't seem to be able to unlearn a behavior that profited them at one time but has later had very negative consequences.

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Your Bonnie stories are gems! Thank you for sharing.

 

Once or twice, we've had to use our deaf dog because the hearing dogs were injured or otherwise unusable. With much less training than either of them but with some instinct and a strong desire to be a partner, she vastly exceeded my expectations. She and I both ended the jobs in a very happy frame of mind.

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Gentle Lake,

Thank you for you kind words, writing is easier, since you can't hear my Polish accent :lol: :lol: , which is because I didn't start learning English until I was 16.

 

Sheep are funny creatures, and I don't think they're as stupid as many people say they are. But one real flaw in their cognitive process is that they don't seem to be able to unlearn a behavior that profited them at one time but has later had very negative consequences.

I think you really found the essence of the sheep problem. I find myself holding usually two notions about sheep simultaneously: "They are very wise. They are very foolish." and you explain this very well.

 

I had one sheep that actually killed herself doing what you describe. She was at our place on loan and we were away for a few hours. Her head was bigger than our sheep's (differed breed) and she thought she was stuck when she wasn't. When I found her dead and "stuck" I just had to swing her body by 90 degrees and the head fell out from between the bars all by itself. Very sad.

 

Sue,

Yes, the dog's happiness is just incredible. Bonnie positively glows after we do some real work. And the clever munchkin knows the real job from the made up ones.

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Working dogs, deaf or hearing are amazing, love this!

 

Samantha

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The sneaky weasel Bonnie went to do the chores today with my husband instead of her mother, who was asleep at a crucial moment. The Chief Shepherd, absorbed in his own tasks and thoughts, never caught on that he had the wrong dog until the sheep, the ducks, and the ducklings were all tucked in, and when upon returning he noticed out of the corner of his eye that the dog next to him had a suspiciously fox-like, perky trot instead of the energy-conserving casual waddle of the 11 yo Kelly.

 

(it means that not only did she hear nothing of what was being said to her, there were no hand signals)

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