By Martin Jurek, Campbell River Hearing Clinic
If you’ve been to our office, at some point you may have had the fortune to meet the most important member of our family and our family business: Lucky.
A Maltese-poodle, Lucky is the official
greeter and security guard of Campbell River Hearing Clinic. (Okay, that
last title is really just honorary; he only weighs 8 pounds,) A great
little dog, Lucky has a wonderful personality and loves going for walks
or sitting with Jana and me – especially when we’re eating chicken or
steak. He’s also very smart, as is proven by the fact that he’s
bilingual, understanding both Czech and English.
Like most dogs, Lucky knows plenty of important words – well, important to canines at least. Use the word “walk” by accident and you’ll have to deal with the consequences. Mention the word “cat,” and all hell could break loose. We even have to be careful not to say “coffee” in Czech because it’s very similar to the Czech word for “kitty.” Suffice it to say, mornings can be exciting around our house. Or at least they used to be.
What’s wrong with Lucky?
Our Lucky is now 13 years old, which, according to experts, makes him about 68 in human years. While the years haven’t changed his sweet personality or attitude toward cats, there has been a change in his hearing.
Like many forms of hearing loss, it started gradually. And even though we’re in the hearing business, it took us a while to catch on.
I’d let Lucky out early in the morning and try to call to him in a soft voice so as not to wake up the neighbours, but he wouldn’t respond. I’d get annoyed at him thinking he was ignoring me so he could carry on eating deer poop. His apparent disregard was becoming a common and frustrating habit, and at times I’d be forced to scold him.
then I noticed that a cat would meow during one of our walks, and what
would once provoke a frenzy would be completely ignored. Fireworks and
thunder resulted in little to no reaction – no more running to his
‘refuge’ behind the toilet. And eventually we realized that we could say
whatever we wanted in front of him and there’d be no response.
Finally, we clued in – Lucky was suffering from presbycusis, the most common type of age-induced hearing loss.
How hearing loss has changed our Lucky
Since we became aware of Lucky’s hearing, other changes we observed now made sense. Most conspicuously, he’s started to become anxious and frustrated, and, frankly, a bit of an annoyance to us at times.
Lucky is constantly underfoot and follows us everywhere because he doesn’t want to miss us leaving the house. He’ll be crying in another room and we’ll have to get up and go get him because he can’t hear us calling him to let him know where we are. And he’s more tired, as he sleeps less to ensure he doesn’t miss out on us leaving a room or the house.
When we talk to him he faces us and watches intently; you can tell he understands by the tempo of his tail wags. We, of course, must speak more loudly and clearly to ensure he catches those “special” words.
Even at the office, Lucky sometimes loses out on greeting his favourite clients (even those who bring him treats) because he doesn’t hear the door beeper from his spot under Jana’s desk. At home, he can't hear us coming so we often startle him inadvertently.
It’s sad because we know he’s missing out on things. And we feel bad about getting annoyed by him. After all, it’s not his fault.
But he’s a plucky little guy and is learning to adapt to his situation. For instance, he now knows to watch our new smart lock when he’s expecting one of us to come home. His normal routine had been to stay in bed until we went to have breakfast, at which point he’d move to the living room. Now he moves to a strategic spot in the house where he can see both Jana and me, and that’s where he plunks himself down.
We’re all making changes to account for his hearing loss because, really, what other options do we have?