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Pat Warne

Hearing Loss

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I'm just copying this post this here in case some of you folks didn't see my reply to Mark's post on the "health and genetics" section. And because a lot of you seem to know my dog Glen. So here goes....

 

I would like to second Mark's thanks to Dave Fetterman for the BAER testing clinic held at his trial this past weekend. I was one of those who found out that I have a deaf dog. My Glen is bilaterally severely hearing impaired, and, while he has some residual hearing, he will soon be completely deaf. He is 7 years old and I bought him two years ago hoping he could take us into Open. While this is a heartbreak, it certainly explains a lot for this bighearted dog. He's been offering random behaviors on the field in response to whistles or verbals, or just shutting down. In retrospect, I think that for a long time now he's been hearing enough to know something is being asked of him but not enough to know what that something is -- especially at a distance, i.e. for ranch courses. And he tries and tries and tries and you can see him stressing out and then just shutting down. I am only sorry that he's spent a significant amount of time being corrected -- however mildly -- for something that was not his fault and was undoubtedly confusing and upsetting to him. Being the soft dog he is, it caused him to shut down and get into a kind of "learned helplessness" mode.

 

For the near future, I'll keep letting him work sheep on his own terms, and hopefully he can still have some fun with it. He's quite nice on close work and has a gorgeous gather -- although a silent one

 

And he'll just be the lovey dovey house dog that he's so good at -- either with me or a really good pet home.

 

I know that lots of people on the Boards know -- or have tried to work -- Glen. So now you also know what at least part of the problem has been.

 

Pat

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Pat, this just breaks my heart. :rolleyes: It does explain a lot about Glen. I don't know why I never thought to check his hearing. His behavior was just so random. I did realize he was confused, but I thought it was because he been with so many different people.

 

I also understand the heartbreak for you. My Cap was supposed to take me into Open. The situation was very much like yours with Glen, but Cap's loss was vision instead of hearing.

 

I feel so badly for Glen, going through all those corrections when it wasn't his fault. I'm glad he's still a happy fellow and has a good home.

 

My thoughts are with you.

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Joan and Sam

 

Yes, random behavior -- that was exactly it. Like he heard something but he couldn't distinguish what it was so he just did **something**. And, of course, a significant amount of time it was the wrong thing and he got corrected -- hence, the learned helplessness behavior and shutting down.

 

You know, I'd suspected this since last year. Sometimes he would stand there and I'd know he heard something but I had the eerie feeling he didn't know where it was coming from. That's when I thought it might be differential -- just one ear, so he was having trouble locating the source of the sound. But, hearing loss sounds like such a cop-out (we even joke about "selective hearing") that I kept second-guessing myself and thinking I'd just not been able to be the right handler for him, or that he just had so much psycho-baggage with him. So I kept putting off getting him tested. Thanks, so much thanks, to Dave Fetterman -- for whom this has been a very personal journey with his Leah.

 

Glen has profound bilateral hearing loss. Possibly a small response still remaining in the right ear. He still seems to hear (reacts with his back to me) around the house if he's not very focused on something else.

 

So, I cried the other day -- but for what we've all been putting the wee Glen through, not really for the loss of a potential open dog. Now what? I won't place him unless I find a very, very special home. So he fills a "slot" in my house. Ahhhhh well, where have I heard that before?

 

I just hope I can let him play around on sheep enough with no pressure to make him enjoy it. When Gene and I are just standing around talking and not paying attention to him, he works them around us and clearly likes it. He also like his outrun,lift, fetch, and it's lovely. So that's what we'll do for awhile.

 

My main problem at home is my psycho golden retriever, Zoe, who bites every dog that comes into the house. 9 years old and still going strong. Oy, as we say in NY. Those competitive Reggie genes. So, it's not really the space Glen is taking up, but the dynamics of adding a 6th dog in the house that worries me. Otherwise, I'd be looking (again) for my open dog.

 

Well, we'll see what happens.

 

I just want to say how important it's been to me, even before this, to hear of others' experiences with Glen. Without exception, everyone has a soft spot for this dog, and everyone had problems with him. Everyone, and I mean everyone, says how glad they are that he has a good home with me. That lets me know that I'm not a total screw-up as a handler. And it also means there is this little family of Glen people up and down the East Coast.

 

So thanks to you all. Joan, make sure I meet you when I'm down your way (probably only Sam's trial gets me down that far).

 

and Glen gives everyone a big sloppy hug.....

 

Pat

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PS,

 

Theressa Chu, DVM, at the vet college in Saswkatchewan Canada is part of team conducting this study to find the gene for adult onset deafness in border collies. Her phone # is (306) 966-7126 and Dave Fetterman undoubtedly has her e-mail. She'll come and do a clinic at any trial if her expenses (flight and lodging) are paid. BAER testing is normally over $100 a pop from what they tell me (I think it's way more in the northeast -- ask Sandy Hornung). I had three dogs tested, so that was a real bargain. I tried to give Dave money, but truly Dave-like, he wouldn't take it. He and Debbie footed the bill for this one. You could maybe ask for donations or something to cover it.

 

So, Chu BAER tests (takes about 5 minutes -- three tiny needle electrodes in the head and even the nutsiest dogs tolerate it well) and then takes a cheek swap for DNA. She set up in Dave's trailer on-site and everything is on a laptop connected to a portable printer. You get the printout, signed by her, as your record. She's particularly interested in young/middle aged dogs with hearing loss and old (10+) dogs without hearing loss. But she'll do all comers. Joan Worthington and I gave her Gene's Nell (9.5 yrs with terrific hearing) and her full littermate, Joan's Tess (deaf), so that was good for the study.

 

And Theressa is a lovely and committed person. She talks about the study to you; explains what you're seeing on the traces. She even adopted a 4 year old dog they found was deaf at a previous trial clinic! She understands trialling and the way we depend on hearing in a very specific and refined way. So she puts her heart where her job is, too.

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Joan,

 

can you tell me how long ago you had Glen and noticed this "randomness?" It would help to get a sense of how long he may have had a hearing loss. Dr. Chu would like to figure that out for him.

 

Pat

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Hey Pat (and Joan, got a private email from you via the boards I guess...?)

 

Yes Joan I did have Grace Baer tested by Suzie...Pat, is that what they were doing and if so how were they able to determine levels of hearing..I was told that the baer test on would distinguish if they heard or not, not levels or degree of hearing...just wondering if there is something new I could test Grace with.

 

Miss you too Joanie, you are still coming for your Scott lesson right?

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Originally posted by Pat Warne:

can you tell me how long ago you had Glen and noticed this "randomness?" It would help to get a sense of how long he may have had a hearing loss. Dr. Chu would like to figure that out for him.

Hi, Pat. I "borrowed" Glen from Alasdair in March, 2002. I think I had him about a year. I also think he had the problems when I first started with him. In fact, I think Suzanne Craddock was having the same problems with him (before I got him). I wonder if maybe his problems started on the flight to the States.

 

I've shed a few tears this evening. :rolleyes:

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Sam, I looked back at Pat's first post, and it does appear to be the BAER test. Isn't that what Suzanne does? Whatever test she does, she did one on Jake about a year before my transplant (around 1997). She told me then that Jake had about 2% of his hearing remaining. Maybe I'm missing something (wouldn't be the first time!), but it appears to me that the BAER does tell levels of hearing. Maybe she wasn't doing the BAER back when I had Jake tested, but she said she was the only doing that test anywhere around here.

 

Yes, I will be there for my lesson. I won't say that nothing could stop me, but it would have to be awfully big! :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by Pat Warne:

[QB]Pat, your descriptions of Glen's work bring back so many memories. You describe it perfectly. I also went through many of the same thoughts you've had. I understand that cried for what we've put Glen through, because I'm crying for the same reason.

 

I know a lot about the "slots," and I could probably guess where you've heard it before! I have six dogs now (all BCs), and only one of them can trial. I can't add a dog until one of the "slots" is available, but I can't send any of them away. Considering the condition of Rip, Jake, and Pete, I could easily lose three dogs this year. When it's right for getting another dog, I'll do it. In the meantime, all six have a home with me, and I'll be satisfied with my one trial dog.

 

I look forward to meeting you, and I hope to see Glen again, too.

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It was the BAER test for Glen. It doesn't really tell levels of hearing, just yes or no for each ear. However, if they find hearing loss, they can turn the volume of the stimulus up and then look at the nerve response. If there is some response, they can make some very general estimates of level of loss. But it's really rough from what I understand. This was how they determined that Glen might still have some hearing in his right ear, tho no where near normal. However, his left ear did not respond to the higher volume.

 

Joan, you should know that Glen is safe and sound and loved. If I find the ideal pet home for him I will let him go; but if I don't I'm committed to keeping him with me. One way or the other, he'll be where he should be. Dear soul.

 

Pat

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When Renee had Moss tested Dr. Chu increased the volume of the testing signals. The printout we got for Moss shows little response at the typical volume level but as Dr. Chu increased the volume (about 80 dB) there was some response. This may be how the Baer test can be used to determine how deaf.

 

I found this description of the Baer test on the web and copied it in full here for reference. For those who had the test done, do you remember watching the scans on the laptop monitor? When I watched it the scans seem to be repeating. Based upon the description below I can guess how they work.

 

The scans are very fast, one scan per click. Right after each click the computer collects the electrical activity and each scan is added to the previous ones yielding an average response over many clicks. This averages out the random noise in all the scans to a flatter baseline while highlighting the real responses.

 

What is the BAER test?

The hearing test known as the brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) or brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) detects electrical activity in the cochlea and auditory pathways in the brain in much the same way that an antenna detects radio or TV signals or an EKG detects electrical activity of the heart. The response waveform consists of a series of peaks numbered with Roman numerals: peak I is produced by the cochlea and later peaks are produced within the brain. The response from an ear that is deaf is an essentially flat line. In the sample recordings shown below, Puppy 1 heard in both ears, Puppy 2 was deaf in the left ear, Puppy 3 was deaf in the right ear, and Puppy 4 was deaf in both ears. Because the response amplitude is so small it is necessary to average the responses to multiple stimuli (clicks) to unmask them from the other unrelated electrical activity that is also present on the scalp (EEG, muscle activity, etc).

 

The response is collected with a special computer through extremely small electrodes placed under the skin of the scalp: one in front of each ear, one at the top of the head, and one between and behind the eyes. It is rare for a dog to show any evidence of pain from the placement of the electrodes - if anything the dog objects to the gentle restraint and the irritation of wires hanging in front of its face. The stimulus click produced by the computer is directed into the ear with a foam insert earphone. Each ear is tested individually, and the test usually is complete in 10-15 minutes. Sedation or anesthesia are usually not necessary unless the dog becomes extremely agitated, which can usually be avoided with patient and gentle handling. A printout of the test results, showing the actual recorded waveform, is provided at the end of the procedure. Test results are confidential, but anonymous details will be used in Dr. Strain's ongoing deafness research for later publication and education of veterinary practitioners.

 

baerscan.gif

 

 

Dr. George M. Strain

Louisiana State University

Comparative Biomedical Sciences

School of Veterinary Medicine

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803

Phone: 225-578-9758

Fax: 225-578-9769

E-mail: [email protected]

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One interesting note... (my dogs have all been tested by Dr Gainsberg in Baltimore, MD). (and yes, it costs $85 per dog, plus exam fee.) He sedates all the dogs for the test, The owner is not allowed back with the dog, so I envy you for getting to have the test done w/o sedation. I wonder if there is a difference in the results - sedated vs. unsedated. I believe Dr. G. feels that a sedated dog will not move or wiggle, therefore giving a truer reading. He also "turns up the volume" for dogs if they show an abnormal response at the level he starts with. Complete deafness, and not just old age hearing impairment, will show a flat line, even at higher frequency. When I had a couple of dogs tested last year, apparently Cooper had a big earwax plug deep in her left ear. When Dr G. first tested her, he came out to tell me she was a Uni (no hearing in her left ear). Then when he went to put the probe in my next dog, the tech noticed it was "gooped up". They got a new probe, retested Cooper, and pronounced her "Normal". She had not shown any signs of an ear problem, but had been exibiting "squirrelly" fearful reactions - so I think she was a "virtual uni", and once I had her ears "deep cleaned", not only did her attitude improve, but her earset actually became "higher".

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We should be careful here how we discuss sound waves because the terms mean different things. Waveforms (sounds included) are described by amplitude (volume) and frequency (pitch). Deafness can be related to loss of hearing range (frequencies) and hearing sensitivity (amplitude). The Baer test does not appear to adjust frequency (and I don't know what the frequency range is for the "clicks") but can adjust amplitude (volume) expressed with units of decibels (dB).

 

Mark

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Originally posted by Pipedream Farm:

We should be careful here how we discuss sound waves because the terms mean different things... The Baer test does not appear to adjust frequency (and I don't know what the frequency range is for the "clicks") but can adjust amplitude (volume) expressed with units of decibels (dB).

Mark

oops - sorry - i did use both terms, and i don't know which he actually "turns up" ---probably the volume? I'll leave the high tech stuff to you and those who know what the h*** they are talking about, and just be thankful that (at least at this point) my dogs can hear.

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Pat,

 

I am sorry to hear of his condition. I understand your pain. My dog was injured with significant brain trauma. She was fine(really I placed at a big trial less than 3 weeks from the accident) just after the accident but 6 months later. She started missing little things. So little that my husband who also runs dogs could not even see. 1 year from the accident she was still trying and he could see when she missed flanks. 1 1/2 years from the accident I had her BAER tested and they said she was at that point 95% deaf. I was not ready to give her up yet she was my first dog I had trained to the Open and probably the best dog I have owned to this day.One day she went out the drive way and It took me 45 minutes of frantically calling and serching before I found her. I knew at that point she needed a more controlled environment. I hate to think if she had gone the other way she would have been out on the highway.

 

I found it hard to explain to my local vet that she just was not the same. He checked everything from Lymes to hips and all between. I keep complaining that it was like she didn't even know when she had screwed up. I even took her to a large teaching hospital 6 hours away. They to did not understand. I kept saying she is just not the same. Her energy is good and attitude was good but she had not connection to my commands and seemed confused. When we finally diagnosed the problem it was a relief. I guess there is something to that. At least you have your answer.

 

Best of luck

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Mandy, I know that story...I work for a small animal vet practice and had to explain the BAER test to the two docs when trying to determine about Beryl's issues. One thought I meant BAERMANN testing for lung parasites "what does that have to do with evalutating her hearing" (no joke, and I respect these two people). I too would like to know about when or if she had training issues a few years back that might have been explained by her losing her hearing.

Pat, Beryl is such a tremendous dog, if I can get her to hear me send her (she tries to be real careful that it's okay to go out) the one thing she still does is gather and fetch beautifully, yes, a silent gather for sure. Driving seems impossible because as she goes further out, and her big ol' ears are pointed forward to her sheep, no "reception". Same thing if there's a lot of distracting noises, sheep related. Pen work is not going too well. She's with me for life, she's earned it. I hope I can keep her safe. I don't have the greatest confidence right now, but this too shall pass.

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I am an audiology doctoral student and am very interested in this particular topic. Maybe I can add some additional info. Clicks generally test the a restricted frequency range of about 2000 to 4000 Hz. For lower frequency responses tonebursts would be used (on humans anyway). The BAER (or ABR in humans) is done on newborns/difficult to test patients to estimate hearing sensitivity. The stimulus (intensity) level is decreased until the response disappears and the last discriminable response is taken as the threshold. Usually in humans the 5th wave is most robust and is present at lower levels. The earlier waves start to disappear with slight decreases in intensity, which is completely normal. This test provides an estimate of hearing sensitivity. Usually a good ABR (recording free of artifact/internal noise) can come within 5 to 10 dB of the actual behavioral hearing threshold. So while a rough estimate, it does allow for some prediction of hearing. Very useful tool for early identification of infant deafness/hearing loss. Very neat application in dogs as well. Hope I was of some help here.

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