Thursday, October 2, 2008

Deaf, Dumb, and Adorable

We've been suspecting that Macy was going deaf for a while now, or I should say, Jon has been suspecting Macy was going deaf for a while and I've been thinking she has the same selective hearing problem she's had since we brought her home. It didn't take us long--only a matter of minutes after walking in the front door with her for the first time--to realize that she's the kind of dog that only marches to the beat of her own drum, but she is willing to give your drum a try so long as there is adequate compensation involved, preferably of the edible variety, and extra obedience for rice. She's never taken commands well unless her commander was carrying something she desperately wanted to devour, so to not have her listening now really shouldn't be all that alarming, in my opinion at least. She has me second-guessing myself lately though, because she's been partaking in vary odd behavior, even for her.

Last weekend, on Sunday afternoon, I realized I hadn't seen Macy in over an hour which rubbed me the wrong way because she's usually on my heels 24/7, her and Jack forming a small train behind me anywhere I go in the house. Her stealthiness had me worried because I have this really awful habit of getting lost in thought and closing the door to a room I've been in without first checking to see if all the members of my little dog posse made it out with me. Poor Jack has been left behind in the garage, spare bedroom, and the enclosed back porch before because I didn't pay enough attention to what I was doing, so I immediately jumped to the conclusion that I'd left Macy stranded in a room somewhere, and more than likely in one of the three places I just listed.

I did a quick search of all the usual spots, also checking under the bed and end tables where she has a tendency to fall asleep. When I didn't find her I began to freak out, calling her name throughout the house, bringing Jon in on the process, and when she didn't turn up, we started to debate over whether or not she had followed me back inside after I'd taken her out an hour or so prior. I was 99% sure I remembered her walking in the back door with me, but that didn't help us because there have been plenty of times when I thought I was 99% sure and it turned out I was dead wrong. This is why you should never list me as your phone-a-friend if you're really serious about winning that money on Millionaire.

The biggest problem with me not being positive that she followed me back in the house was that our little free-spirited Cockerspaniel has a secret escape route from the backyard that Jon and I have not been able to find after almost 2 years of searching the fence for holes and having stake-outs at the doors and windows facing the backyard to see if she'll play Canine Houdini while we're paying attention. This meant our search area increased from a measly 1300 square feet to roughly a mile of woods and dead end streets. I say only a mile because she may be free, but she's still slow, so we figured we at least had that in our favor.

Jon went outside to canvas the neighborhood, checking her usual haunts which are pretty much all of our neighbors who also have dogs, calling out her name every few steps. I stayed in the house pleading with Jack to show me where his sister had gotten to, all the while complaining because I could swear I heard her snoring but I couldn't make heads or tails of where it was coming from. I was still convinced I'd closed her up in a room somewhere because I was still almost sure I'd brought her back in from outside.

This went on for about 20 minutes. We must have called her name hundreds of times, inside and outside of the house. The only thing we could really do was wait and see if she came scratching at the front door like she usually does after a neighborhood rendezvous, or if she got fed up with whatever room or hole she was stuck in and started whimpering. I figured this may take awhile, especially if she stumbled upon a giant bag of stuffed animals which, sadly, we have stashed in various places around the house, or if she was locked up with a tub of dog treats.

After we'd resigned ourselves to settling down and waiting, everything became very quiet, and lo and behold, we could hear muffled snoring coming from a room we hadn't checked--the sun room--to which the french doors were wide open. We walked in, glancing at the couches and under the tables, but to our surprise she wasn't in any usual spots. We had to laugh when we finally spotted her sleeping soundly on a large, blue beanbag chair I'd stuffed in a corner behind one of the french doors and completely forgotten about. At most she had 6 inches from the inward opening door to the wall to squeeze through and nestle herself into the unused beanbag. How were we supposed to know to look in a place none of us--humans or canines--had ever acknowledged before?

We laughed, we called to her, we knocked on the door as if asking permission to enter her private room, but she didn't wake up. We had to actually pull the door back and tap her on the head before she opened her tired, bloodshot eyes and yawned at us. It was at that moment that I finally admitted that maybe Macy is going or has already gone deaf.

I guess it's happened again since then. While I was at work on Tuesday Jon had to launch another house-wide search for the vanishing dog. It didn't take quite as much time as the Sunday search before he found her in our bedroom, nestled in a basket of folded laundry I hadn't gotten around to putting away yet.

We won't know for sure until we take her to the vet to find out whether or not she's deaf or if her ears just need cleaned out again, but as more and more time passes everything is starting to make a little more sense. Her bad hearing would definitely explain why her muffled whine while begging for food from under the dinner table has turned into an incessant screeching. If she's losing her hearing then she doesn't realize how loud she is, and since I'm not giving her any of my food it must be because I can't hear her, or so she thinks. Truth is I hear her loud and clear, just as the neighbors 2 blocks over must hear her and grumble about those yuppies down the street who are constantly losing and abusing their dogs.

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