Sunday, August 25, 2019
When I see Ruby standing looking out the window at the birds, watching chipmunks run around outside I realize she doesn't hear the song of the birds or the chatter of the chipmunks; not even her brother when he barks an alert. She doesn't know her name because she has never heard it due to her deafness. We can't call her, give her praise, or direction as all she sees is our lips moving but not what is being said. Ruby acts differently than other dogs. She will stand in place until we gently nudge her so she knows what we want of her. She will stand back and watch trying to fathom what we want of her.
It is because she seems aloof that I realize she lives in a world of silence. She doesn't hear anything at all - just silence. No whisper of breeze going through the trees, no coyotes yipping, no thunder, no rain on the roof, no name being called, no words of encouragement - nothing just a world of silence. Deafness is workable in humans but in animals there is no remedy. We have made some progress with hand signals but often due to our lack of ability she still doesn't understands and just stays in place until she can figure out what we want. In spite of her deafness she remains one happy girl.
Living with a deaf canine family member has certainly raised our awareness of "impaired" and the challenges in dealing with it. It doesn't seem to bother Ruby at all since she lives in the moment and is used to nothing but silence. The average German Shepherd understands about 165 words but Ruby doesn't even know her name - instead lives in a silent world. Our dogs have always understood more words because we talk to them on a regular basis so they are exposed to more words but Ruby recognizes none.
Dogs understand more than verbal words, they understand body language and gestures (hand signals).
I have always had compassion on the hearing impaired especially since I handled a workers compensation claim on a teacher who taught sign language at the St. Augustine school for the deaf. She fell in her classroom and fractured both wrists resulting in casts from elbows to finger tips. She couldn't teach or communicate. That was my first clue of "impaired" but Ruby being such a happy fur family member really brings a world of silence home to me in a different way.
She doesn't understand her deafness nor does she labor on it. She takes each moment as it happens and enjoys her silent world without objection. Dogs smile and she smiles a lot. Seems to me that is a good example of how we should be too.