Every year in America, the last week of September is set side to celebrate our four-footed friends that are deaf. This year National Deaf Dog Week falls from September 24 to October 1. And around our nation, people are finding good reasons to celebrate!
One of the most endearing qualities of dogs who are deaf is that they “hear with their hearts.” Not only do they love their human BFFs, they also love their deaf buddies as well. Yes, all dogs love their humans, but deaf dogs seem to have a greater capacity for emotional bonding than do their hearing counterparts.
Many people believe that when a dog loses one physical sense—such as the ability to hear—their other senses become sharper to “take over.’ But according to science, that’s not actually what is happening.
In his ground-breaking work on deafness in dogs, Stanley Coren (How Dogs Think: Understanding the Canine Mind) describes eight different modalities that allow deaf dogs to substitute touch for hearing. Their adaptation to sensing the world differently is truly amazing, and you see it demonstrated in pet dogs that cannot hear.
These special canines are called “Velcro” dogs, because they stick to their human handlers like the hook-and-link fastener. Laughably, other reasons deaf dogs rock are because they don’t freak out during thunderstorms. You can sneak into the kitchen for a late night snack, open a bag of potato chips and your deaf dog doesn’t wake up and they don’t lose their cool when surrounded by other barking dogs.
Deaf dogs make excellent therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, and even service dogs because they don’t react with fear and anxiety exhibited by some hearing dogs. Not only do they tolerate lots of strange hands petting them, they revel in the attention.
Some people have the mistaken notion that all white dogs are deaf. Of course, some dogs (of any color) become deaf through accident or illness, but the inheritance of deafness does seem to go along with white coloration. The reason for that lies in the fact that the cells that enable the ability to hear and the cells that determine coat color come from the same stem cells. Congenital hearing loss occurs frequently in breeds with white, piebald, or merle coats. Some of the breeds with these color patterns include Bull Terriers, Boxers, English Setters, Dalmatians, Old English Sheepdogs, Dachshunds, Welsh Corgis, and Border Collies.
Remember this about deaf dogs: the loss of hearing seems to sharpen one sense above all others… the sense of love!