Our Canine Office Greeter, Max, Just had a Birthday

Happy Birthday to Max the DogMany of you who have visited the office of Prescott Hearing Center have had the joy of meeting Max, the office greeter.  Max is a long-haired, mini dachshund.  We have had Max since he was a puppy and went through the joys of each year as he developed into the sweet dog that he is today.  He has always enjoyed hikes, walks, and going for rides and the exuberance he shows when anticipating these adventures could bring cheer to anyone’s heart.

Max Turned 13, and He’s Hard of Hearing Too

This month, Max turned 13.  Unfortunately, the changes we see each year of his life are becoming increasingly apparent as he slows down in his movement and his energy seems to dwindle a bit more.  He is also missing a few teeth and is showing a few more grey hairs around his snout, but probably his most apparent change is that he cannot hear so well anymore.  In fact, he can barely hear at all.

Max has his favorite spots to sleep and while he is resting or simply not focused on his human, it is now almost impossible to get his attention using verbal or other auditory clues such as clapping one’s hands.  What once was a gleeful and energetic response to “wanna take a walk?” is now seemingly ignored until his attention is redirected via a gentle nudge by his walking partner.  Going “potty” used to happen upon his human’s command but is now done at his leisure, like an adolescent on a road trip. Even the word “treat” has no meaning anymore.

Dogs and Hearing Loss

It is sad to see him get to this stage of his life, since his older sister, Shadow, an Australian cattle dog also went through the difficulties of hearing loss.  While each of these dogs are/were young at heart, the effects of hearing loss changed their personalities.  You see, it is not that they became older dogs and then could not hear, instead, the hearing loss began to get worse and they started to react like older dogs.

Being a hearing healthcare provider, I cannot help but to see the similarities of Max and many of my human patients.  Using tactile and visual cues, the hard-of-hearing with a mild hearing loss can initially keep up with the activities that are currently going on.  That is, until it becomes so difficult to stay involved, that it becomes easier to simply ignore the activities and to retreat into the proverbial corner and sleep until someone makes the added effort to get their attention.

How We Help Max with His Hearing Issues

Just for fun one day, we put hearing aids with some low-level gain into Max’s ears. When we asked him if he would like a treat, he immediately responded by running to the drawer where his treats are stored.  After chomping down his favorite munchie, he vigorously shook his head, as you would expect, to dislodge his new hearing aids making them useless as they lay on the floor.

Obviously, a dog conforming to using hearing aids is not a realistic expectation, but that moment of joy we experienced seeing Max so excited was worth every effort we had taken, even if only for a fleeting moment.  It was joyous enough that I had to put them into his ears again, simply to tell him, “I love you”.  His eyes told me that he heard me.

What I would not do to be able to have Max hear me say those words every day.  I know it would improve the quality of his life as well as filling our hearts with more joy.  Unfortunately, Max does not have much chance of conforming to hearing aid use.  Humans, on the other hand, have a choice.