When The Dog One Depends on Goes Missing

My wee little doggie is my best pal. She lets me know when someone is at the door (although we are still working on the fact the big bell is the same thing as a knock on the door) and all sorts of things other people take for granted that they will hear.

Yesterday was a busy day at the casa with the property manager and the maintenance guy here a couple of times. Antonio (maintenance) was here twice dealing with the chiminea problem (smoke backing up into house) and after he left I was missing one wee little doggie.

There were options for why I could not find her: 1 – shut in a dressing room or other room where I could not hear her (it has happened before). 2 – jumping in Antonio’s car (this has happened with a friend, so not unlikely). 3 – got out the door and wandered. ¬†After checking the house twice I checked the immediate vicinity, then sent an email to the property manager to ask the maintenance guy if she was in his car uninvited (it was going to be COLD again). Then the house to house search was on with one of my neighbors who has two dogs.

Twenty breathless minutes later one of my other neighbors with dogs walked down the road with the wee little doggie under her arm. Wee little doggie was cold and scared and had gotten way down the end of one of the little dirt side roads here.


I have had problems with her slipping through the wrought iron door before and thought I’d closed it off enough to prevent such IMG_3753an incident. After I got her home I got serious with the tape (until I can install a dog gate or something) and there is no way she’s getting out through that! Hey, it is messy, ,but it works! ūüėÄ I’m not sure my heart can stand another panic-stricken event like that!

The Joy of Bunk Beds

When my daughter brought me home to her place, I ended up sharing a room with my 7-year-old grandson. ¬†I’ve got the bottom bunk. Overhead are thick, firm, wooden slats. I don’t believe anyone realized how useful they would be. I’ve been able use them as therapy bars. First I could use my left hand/arm to help whilst my right arm/shoulder was a shattered disaster. Now I’m using them to help lever myself and the knee around. When we do the shoulder again, and when the right foot is eventually fixed I suspect I’ll be appreciating the joys of bunk beds again.

Except for times when I’m bed-ridden (such as for these few days) I am usually here just for a few hours of sleep. ¬†“The boy” (which is the term I use to identify my grandson to the dog) is the one who uses the room during the daylight hours when he is here. “The boy” and I both have hearing deficits, mine are merely catastrophically worse than his (thank heavens). He tends to have a big voice (as do I) so most of the time I can hear him better than most – sometimes way too well. ¬†And “the boy” is also McKinley (Baby Dog’s) favorite rough and tumble playmate. Every dog should have a wonderful boy to roll around the floor with, to play tug of war with, and to romp and play with until totally exhausted. They usually collapse at the same time. Life is good.

The eldest girl is more of a momentary angel gliding through Kinley’s life giving tummy rubs, soft kisses, and tummy rubs. The younger girl is presently doing her imitation of the grinch. ¬†This too will change. Fortunately, in a small home with an amazing number of people here (the VNA personnel were amazed as adults and children popped into existence at the top of the stairs), there is always a kind word and pat for McKinley. ¬†And I never miss knowing someone is at the door here because of McKinley’s “announcing” visitors – although it would be good if she’d announce just a wee bit less.

When You are Unconscious it Doesn’t Matter

Today I had a day surgery. Last night it poured freezing rain and it was still a frozen mess while my son-in-law drove me off to meet my fate. He’s a good driver, BTW.

When we got there I was bemused about the name of the unit. ¬†Surgery Day Care – it has a certain cachet to it, don’t you think? ¬†We have day care for kids and day care for dementia patients – now there is day care for surgery patients. Who knew?

Really, though, it was just plain old Day Surgery.  Maybe the person who designated the name was fond of the sayings of Yoda.  Day care surgery you will have. Healed you will be.

Beings as this was the place I had the bad experience with the other day I was pleased to find out that I had a mixed bag of experiences. ¬†The anesthesiologist (aka the ‘gas passer’) didn’t know sign, but he knew Deaf and HoH and said I could call him by his first name, which was cool. He also was concerned about the ototoxicity of Tylenol and said he’d be careful. He always looked right at me and he had a great voice.

My prep nurse was awesome – again, didn’t sign, but was easy to teach to talk to me rather than around me. The ER nurse was a loss whether he was wearing a mask or not. Fortunately, Andrew (the anesthesiologist) really ran the communication part of the show.

My surgeon forgot about my hearing loss. We do the “I can’t hear you” thing almost every time we meet, but it is not like he’s my primary care, so I tend to be forgiving towards the ortho who is doing his best to put my various body parts back together with toothpicks and glue. ¬†He tries hard and he’s honest with me – which is a huge issue for me. Just tell me how it is and will be.

I went out like a light in seconds – then it is really pretty unimportant what I don’t hear. ¬†They had my knee marked (cut THIS one) so the appropriate knee was incised in various places to fix the tear(s) and get a light in to get a look around. I don’t know how many incisions since the knee is wrapped and then wrapped again in a huge ace wrap.

To add a thrill to the day my daughter could not come get me as planned as one of the kids came down with something closely resembling either flu or food poisoning. I texted one of my best friends to come get me and his car had a flat on the way. Why the dickens he drove on it until it looked like a black rubber Christmas wreath neither of us are quite sure about.  He changed it in the parking lot rather than where he realized he had a flat. Apparently it made sense at the time.

Nonetheless, he and I communicated by text – and when he’s with me he has a fantastic voice so no problems there. ¬†He and my brother have the only voices I can recognize over the phone.

I insisted on walking out of the hospital since the surgeon told me I could. ¬†The nurse and my pal sorta shook their heads and walked with me – yes it hurt, yes I’m glad I did it, and really, at that time I wasn’t using my ear. Walking on my ear would be rather difficult. ¬†Instead, I was limping down a hall looking determined and testing my stability.

Got home to two nurses from VNA (Visiting Nurses Association) who were here to work with my daughter.  Amazingly enough, both of them were totally great for a deaf or HoH person.  My fav had a pocket full of homemade dog biscuits and the picky Baby Dog ate two of them.  Score.  Baby Dog was absolutely insane with joy when I got back, which is as it should be. While recovering I was dreaming about petting her Рso the shared joy is mutual.

So, I had a successful operation on the torn bits of the knee, was able to communicate easily with a few folks and with determination with others. The operation was done under a general anesthetic so they could have been whispering in Swahili while listening to We Are The Champions¬†by Queen and I wouldn’t know the difference.

To pee or not to pee, that is the question..

Have you ever noticed that when you take a dog out to use the “outdoor bathroom” that the dog has to sniff and turn around 10 times and then decide another place is better? ¬†And sometimes decides it doesn’t smell good enough to pee so they refuse to go and then get hysterical when you reach the door – so you have to go back out again?

Just once I’d like to see a human walk around the house, sniffing the floor the walls, the curtains, and find their way to the toilet. Then there could be a sniffing crisis if the seat was up – or down. ¬†Walk around the bathroom with nose to the base of the toilet

“Hey! this isn’t clean enough!”

“I can smell bleach here!”

“What’s that blue stuff ?”

“To pee or not to pee, that is the question. ¬†Whether ’tis nobler to … “

Oh for Goddess sake, would you just go? 

But no, hearing or deaf, sighted or blind, we humans simply bumble our way into the Water Closet, the Bathroom, the Lavatory, the Toilet Рand we sit upon the throne and then leave.  Perhaps we should make the same ritual out of it that dogs do.  Imagine the lines at sporting events.

Dog Talk

I think I mentioned a time or two before that my daughter has a mental health therapy dog who is very productive for folks who are depressed or suffering from stress. ¬†However, she’s also a very bright and adaptive little gal and she’s figured out that I participate in Dog Talk, also known as Speaking Dog. ¬†Her Mom hasn’t really seen us in action before and was flabbergasted when she saw “Baby Dog” (my pet name for her) and me Dog Talking.

When I came in the door I instantly knew Baby Dog needed out. ¬†Her Mom said she’d never seen her that totally focused on anyone. Not long after Baby Dog started talking to me by first lying in front of me to catch my eye, staring at me, and then, when I acknowledged her, doing a very energetic dance to let me know she had to go out NOW. ¬†She’s never done that with her Mom or anyone else. ¬†Just me. ¬†Why? ¬†It’s Dog Talk. ¬†Dogs talk with bodies – they’re largely visual communicators, although they pant, leave scent trails,¬†whine, bark, and make other noises. ¬†Baby Dog (aka ‘Kinley) knows I can’t hear her half the time, but I’m the visual one in the house.

Need food?  Walk to Grandma, walk to the dish (which can be out of my sight in another room) repeat until the old lady gets up to see what the message is (anyone remember Lassie doing this?).  Water Рditto.  Go out Рcatch the eye and do a dance Рthe level of desperation in the dance tells me whether to run for the door or wait for the leash.  She also does a more energetic dance if I need to take the dog poo bag.  And Baby Dog can do no wrong so it a very positive feedback environment for her.

Her Mom was highly entertained and wondered why only I get this very focused and full body communication treatment. ¬†Because only *I* pay attention to her in an almost totally visual way. ¬†Her Mom wishes Baby Dog ‘Kinley would communicate with her as well when she needs to go out.

In addition, she lets me know when someone is at the door with a bounce off my leg (at her weight a little dog bounce is no problem) and, of course, I can hear a modicum of her bark.

She’d make a fantastic hearing ear dog. ¬†But she’d miss her other family pack members too much if she got certified¬†as a hearing ear dog and left with me when, someday, I move on. ¬†But it just goes to show that the size of the dog is irrelevant unless one needs a dog to help steady the hearing impaired person – as in the case of Meniere’s.

The Happiest Dog in the World

So often with advocacy blogs we end up sounding like we are harping on a topic, which can be a turn off to others.

So I thought I’d change the subject and talk about The Happiest Dog in the World.

Thanks to Scarrie24 of Photobucket

Her name is McKinley and she’s named after the largest mountain in North America. ¬†Why? ¬†Because her heart is big as that grand peak that rises straight up 18,000 feet out of the surrounding plain. ¬†Unlike Denali (the Athabascan name for it that means “Great One”), McKinley’s heart is not made of granite, but of joy and love – all 7 pounds of her.

Yup, that’s right, she’s a mix of mini-Doxie and Jack Russell and the mini really went small on her. ¬†She’s both lovely to look at and light as a feather to hold. ¬†Besides that, when the creator of dogs made her extra helpings of love and joy were added to make her extra-special.

Several months ago, ‘Kinley was designated a “mental health” companion dog. ¬†She’s got a vest and everything. ¬†But she’s really missed her calling. ¬†She’s the dog that lets me know there is someone at the door. She’s started acting as my hearing ear dog – she’s got it that she needs me to watch her. ¬†She trained herself in no time flat. ¬†At night she checks on everyone in the house to make sure we’re all safe. ¬†She also breaks up fights when the cats get into it with each other. “No unhappiness in this house!” ¬†But when it storms out, she is a scared little dog – the only time she isn’t happy.

Other dogs might like to play tug of war and growl and play fight. ¬†McKinley isn’t interested. ¬†She wants to cuddle up and give you love. ¬† Now and then she’ll pick up her stuffed dog and give it a shake, but then it is “pals forever” and she lays down with it. ¬†When she’s not being a cuddle bug she loves to go for a walk. ¬†And let me tell you, you’ve never SEEN a happy dog until you’ve walked with ‘Kinley. ¬†Sometimes I let her walk ahead and even her little butt is happy! ¬†Every step is a tail wag and every step has a little skip to it.

I’ve met lots of happy dogs. ¬†I’ve met dogs who smile. ¬†I’ve met lots of really great dogs. ¬†But in all my life, I’ve never met a dog with as much sheer joy in life as ‘Kinley.

Her former “Dad” didn’t like her – at all. ¬†He tried. She drove him nuts. When Mom and Dad got a divorce she ended up with Dad for a long time. ¬†It was sad, because she ended up rejected. ¬†Then one day we were able to have her certified as a mental health companion dog and now she and her Mom will always be able to be together.

Maybe the reason she is so happy is that she lives with 5 people – 6 sometimes – who love her to pieces. ¬†She greets everyone with great joy when we come in the door and she lets us know she’s going to miss us while we’re gone. ¬†If you’re sad, she’s there to make your day brighter. ¬†If you’re hurt, she’s there to soothe your pain (she used to lay her head gently on my broken shoulder) or your broken heart.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why her former Dad didn’t like her – even a little bit. ¬†She’s brimming over with love and joy. ¬†Maybe he likes the opposite? ¬†That would be sad. ¬†But he does have another dog he loves, so I guess it just wasn’t a good fit. ¬†Although, ‘Kinley loves him even if he doesn’t like her. ¬†Dogs are better about that than people are.

She’s right beside me now. ¬†Sleeping on a blanket I told her she could use. ¬†Resting after a nice brushing and a canned food and tuna treat (burp!).

When, someday, I move away and don’t see her as much, I will miss her so much. ¬†She’s my grand-dog and while the grandkids will grow up and go on to their own lives, ‘Kinley will always be a little love bug full of great joy and able to bring happiness to others.

She’d make a great “hearing ear” dog for the Deaf, but she’d miss her Mom and new Dad and the kids too much. ¬†Too bad we can’t clone her “I’m the happiest dog in the world” personality.

Investing in Others

A few years ago an acquaintance of mine asked me why she had no friends. ¬†It’s not an easy question to answer. ¬†We’re all different and we all want or have different types of friend relationships, but over the years I’ve come to recognize that this person really is very alone in the world. ¬†And she’s not the only one.

I’ve spent a long time wondering why some of us are not just alone, but also very lonely. ¬†Being alone is not necessarily a bad thing. ¬†I find some of my most peaceful times alone and I’m quite honest when I say I prefer the company of most dogs to most people. ¬†Dogs don’t have it in them to lie – I know how to read a dog’s body language and I know what to expect. ¬†People, not so much. ¬†People lie to themselves first and foremost, before going on to attempt to deceive the rest of the world.

I’m off and on a social media board where disabled singles largely whine about why no one dates them. When I finally do post it is to suggest they need to make themselves the kind of person who would attract the kind of person they’d like to have into their lives. ¬†This is usually met with stony silence. Nope, not about them, about everyone else in the world who does not want to accept them as they are and sweep them up and romance them like a novel. ¬†Really? ¬†Someone forgot to tell me that when I grew up.

I know plenty of folks who are deaf, blind, deafblind, in wheelchairs, in walkers, and so on and so forth, who suffer from everything from severe  Ehlers-Danlos to various forms of cancer and suffer mild to severe debilitation who have friends and loved ones. So what gives?  Why do some of us spend a lifetime being unable to connect with others?

Ultimately, what I see as the difference is investing in others. It means being willing to let go of all those things we want (me, Me, ME!) and paying attention to others, their needs, their wants, and desires and doing so willingly and with no expectation of any return on that investment.  What do they want, they need?  What will make them smile?  When I take the emphasis off of me and put it on someone else then my world view shifts and their perception of me is different than if I am simply self-absorbed all the time.

I invest in myself as well, through learning American Sign Language, going to meetings, meeting people, listening to their stories, empathizing and caring what happens to them. ¬†By investing in others, by caring about their welfare, I also invest in myself and the world around me. ¬† I admit, I’d like my local family to invest in me by learning to sign, but I’m also realistic enough to know that’s not going to happen.

So the answer is – if your (generic you) world is about your house, cars, toys, savings, retirement, and income – if it is all about you – what you want, need, or desire – then you are alone for a reason. ¬†If you can’t put yourself in the place of another, if you can’t run to the rescue of another, if you cannot imagine not putting yourself first and foremost, then it is a problem of lack of empathy and lack of heart. ¬†Without that ability one can never invest honestly in another and never find a return on that investment (although that’s not why I invest in others, it is simply what happens).

Interestingly enough, in the deaf community, when I am signing with others, the fact that the language is 3D and full body means that I am getting what I consider a total communication I never get from hearing folks. ¬†I’ve heard it said that the hearing are deaf from the neck down and more and more I tend to agree with that. ¬†I have much more of an idea of what to expect from a signer than someone who is not a signer. ¬†Not that all deaf, HoH, or signers are wonderful people – we all have our issues like everyone else, but I’d like to think that we do more investing in each other than is the norm in other communities.

When I say I am deaf what does that mean?

My ambulance and hospital experience really pointed out to me that when I say, “I’m deaf” it seems to mean close to nothing to the hearing world. ¬†If I can voice it then I’m exaggerating.

So what do I mean when I say I’m deaf? ¬†I could say Hard of Hearing, but that is even less clear – less descriptive.

Without my hearing aid on (and its been off a LOT recently because I could not get it in my ear) means that I can’t understand 90% of the conversations in my daughter’s home. ¬†Sometimes I don’t even know if someone is talking. ¬†At other times I know they are talking but I can understand nothing of it.

It means that I can’t hear wet shoes squeak on linoleum or the sound of a whistle being tooted on outside. ¬†It means I can’t hear the school bus come, but I can watch the dog and know that the bus is here. ¬†And it means if I am wearing my hearing aid I want to scream at the sound of the squeak of wet shoes and the shrill whistle being blown. ¬†God save me if I have a HA on when you turn a car stereo on and it is full blast.

Without HAs I’m in a world of my own. ¬†I read a lot. ¬†My daughter’s therapy dog is my best clue as to when something is happening. ¬†She makes me long for a hearing ear dog even more.

Being functionally deaf means I don’t understand the words to songs. ¬†I generally don’t recognize voices. I may not hear cars coming and if I don’t pay attention I could be road kill. ¬†It means not hearing rain on a fan in a window so if I know it is going to storm I have to check so the fan doesn’t get wet and short out.

It means that quite often I hear two-thirds of what you just said and my brain is madly plugging the bits and pieces into a framework and filling the gaps to make sense of it all. Its hard work. Please don’t make it harder by looking away when you speak. If I really don’t get what you are saying I may make you spell a word out for me. ¬†I don’t accept, “Never mind.”

Just when you least expect it there will be a lull in the background noise and something said sotto voice will ring true in my ear and I’ll hear it. ¬†How? ¬†I don’t know how. ¬†It just happens. ¬†Its a rarity, but clearly you think I can hear it all the time.

If someone says to you, “I’m deaf” the best thing you can do is inquire:

Do you need an interpreter?

Do you need a pen and paper?

How can I best speak to be understood by you?

Thoughts for the day on life in my quiet life.

Hiking HoH

Today was so nice out the dog got walked twice. ¬†In fact, I awoke early and did the first tour of the neighborhood while the sky was still brightening – and also took some photos for the photoblog. ¬†Later the roomie took the dog on another peregrination of the local streets. ¬†About 10 a.m. I decided to take him for a longer walk so we drove to Weir Hill. ¬†I should have just walked, but then I’d have had to lug his carcass home because he’d poop out by the time we got there – as in he’d be unconscious with his body wrapped around my neck whimpering “Take me home!” ¬†I have to get his stamina up. Anyway, I figured it was early enough not to run into many dog folks. ¬†So I decided – what do I need a hearing aid for? ¬†You’d have thought I’d have learned from the store experience.

So, we’re walking up the hill and Duke the dog is doing his “Oh, my, other dogs have been here – let me smell!” thing and I’m trying to be accommodating while still going UP the hill. ¬†Then, in the splendid silence that is my world I realized the dog is freaking out. ¬†As in – there is something in the leaves and pine needles.

Wiki media – brown common garter snake

It was a nice size tan garter snake, minding it’s own business. ¬†Probably Duke scared the poor thing out of a year’s growth. ¬†I wondered if I’d have heard rustling of leaves or something rather than just realizing the dog was about ready to levitate off the ground. ¬†I’m not really worried about rattle snakes here, but then I got to wondering if they actually have them in New England.

Back to working our way up the hill, which is basically on paths that appear to have been developed by spring runoff and other walkers/hikers Рpretty much the kind of path you need to pay attention to unless one wants a broken ankle.  And since my daughter broke her leg/ankle in four places (and dislocated it in about as many places) this time last year I was looking where I was going.  SURPRISE!  Fortunately the big wet dog was nice and happy to see us.  Big overgrown waterdog pup.  So was the second one.

I wonder how much noise these dogs and their owners make when you can hear?  Do hearing people know other people are coming? I suppose so.  

The last dog was a lovely Alaskan Malemute – one of my favorite dogs of all time. ¬†Lovely bitch with impeccable manners. ¬†I was trying to talk with her owner when suddenly he didn’t have any voice and I realized he was totally out of range (which is a few steps or just turning away). ¬†Oh, well…

Got back to the car, fished the hearing aid out of the case, put it on and wondered what I missed by hiking half-deaf.  Tomorrow is another (better hearing) day.

Shopping HoH Style

My plan was simple. ¬†Since it was cool out, the dog would “guard the car” and I would jet into the local Stop and Shop, grab a hand scanner, throw the stuff in my re-usable bags, scan out, and dash back home in time for a quick dog walk.

I’m assuming that in most major metro areas there is one store (or more) with the little hand scanner that technically allows you check out in nothing flat so you know what they are. These gadgets make a beeping noise when an item is logged in. ¬†Or at least they do when I am wearing my hearing aid. ¬†When I am not wearing my hearing aid I have to eagle-eye it to make sure the item rang in.

Tonight was a non-hearing aid night since the battery beeped out on me. ¬†Everything went great – right up until checkout. ¬†It was my opportunity to get randomly audited. ¬†The clerk had to re-scan five items. He’s having problems scanning one of them. ¬†And because I can’t hear the beep and I can’t see the machine I’m trying to figure out if it didn’t scan to begin with. ¬†Because he’s having problems of his own he’s not answering me – or if he is I’m not hearing him because he’s mumbling (probably speaking normally) while looking down at the hand scanner.

And because time was of the essence (for me), his supervisor had to be called over to help him. ¬†Since deleting the 5-item checksum didn’t work, then another supervisor was needed. ¬†My eyes were sort of bugging out, trying to look around corners so I could figure out what was going on with the darned hand scanner. ¬†Then, thankfully, some bit was twiddled and the order went through – ¬†in silence. ¬†They were elated. ¬†I realized it would have taken less time to get all my stuff scanned and bagged at a register.

Next time, I swear, I am going to take the time to pop a new battery in the hearing aid and wear it into the store! ¬†Not that it would have saved time, but at least I’d have understood what all the hoopla was about.

No, the dog never got his walk, but he did a treat of mashed sweet potatoes when we got home. ¬†BTW, apparently sweet potatoes = noxious gas. ¬†OMG…

And if you haven’t read the book, Walter the Farting Dog, please consider doing so. ¬†It’s a riot. ¬†ūüôā