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Sunday, August 25, 2019


I must admit I never thought much about deafness until we adopted Ruby who is totally deaf. I don't think I'm that much different from other people with hearing because we take it for granted especially if we have it. We hear the term "hearing impaired" but it doesn't really register on us who have no impairment. As humans we realize those hearing impaired have sign language, they are trained to read lips and aided with closed caption on television programs.

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.


Barbara Ferguson said...

Hi Bruce:
Its a bummer to have a bum knee. I know because a good friend of mine had one for years and years. He limped around and the pain was causing tension in his whole body. About 6 months ago he found out about and got stem cell therapy. The knee healed over about a month or two, the pain completely went away, and he no longer has to go to a message therapist for the knots in his back and shoulders. You may know about this already. But since this technology is relatively new I though to share this story with you.
Cheers, Barbara

Bruce said...

Thanks Barbara: I have heard about that stem cell therapy and in fact Bob V. had it but it didn't help him. Right now the brace seems to help a lot and I think the next step would be the injections. It does screw up your whole body like it did with your friend. Saw your truck at your house recently and when you are out here again please feel free to stop by for a visit. Right now we are rushing to get things done here before the snow flies which will be soon.