When a dogs loses its ability to hear, when a dog goes deaf, it is very much worse than for a human being. Dogs have acute hearing and it is one of their most profound senses, along with scent. For a search and rescue dog it is an absolute tragedy to lose this ability. Animals are their senses, as far as we know, they do not ponder thoughts like human beings do. So, when an animal is deprived of one of its key sensory components, it is like half of its reason for living has been taken away.
When Dogs Go Deaf
‘When dogs go deaf’, sounds like a line from a Prince song, or something out of Revelations. It is a sign of something not being right. When you train animals and live with them side by side every day of your life, you develop a deep appreciation of their essential selves. A dog will not betray your trust. No animal will lead you astray. What you see is what you get with an animal. It may be simpler, but it is, also, more profound. Some of the saddest things I have ever seen are deaf animals.
Hearing difficulties in dogs and other animals can be caused by infection and disease, but it is most often caused by exposure to very loud noises. Exploding bombs can traumatise their ear drums and result in deafness. Dogs used in the military in war zones can suffer permanent damage like this and are usually put down. Some in the business, say that it is more humane to euthanise an animal in this situation, than to subject it to half a life. It is a contentious issue, just the same, and not something any of us rush into.
Dogs are vital to search and rescue operations, and we understand that we are putting the lives of these animals at risk, but that is the name of the game really. Emergency services’ individuals put their lives on the line to try and save the lives of those who have fallen victim to danger. Search and rescue is all about danger and potential death; we hope through our training, and the training of the dogs, that we will both overcome those things, but sometimes we do not. Deafness in dogs is a tragedy and the work occasionally causes this, but we do everything in our power to avoid these eventualities.