Dog we took in is probably deaf, somewhat blind, and more

catherinet(5 IN)January 12, 2009

Hi all,

We decided to take in a stray, since the only other option in this county is euthanasia. Since it nipped my husband, we had it tied up on our porch for 2 weeks. Then we took it to the vet for its shots.

The new vet partner said the dog was 7-8, but I swear its at least 12-13.

Maybe its just had a hard life. They clapped behind its head at the vets, and it didn't respond. She doesn't seem to ever focus on us, but can make her way around the house without bumping into things.

But I think there's something more wrong with her. She's just not all there. I give her a treat, and she doesn't even focus on it, or eat it.

We let her out in the back yard, and she doesn't know how to come back in. I guess we should use a leash for awhile.

She paces, and paces and paces.

Its hard to guess what her past was like.

I got a dog whistle, thinking she was responding to higher pitched sounds, but she has no reaction to it.

She does respond to a flashlight sometimes.

She wouldn't come in tonight, so DH and I had to chase her around the back yard for awhile. DH got hold of her, and she bit him again. At least we know she doesn't have rabies, and she has had her shots. Is there any other reason we should be worried about him getting bit? He had a tetanus recently, and we'll watch for infection.

She's been very docile since coming in the house on Saturday. DH gave her a bath, and she did fine. She seems comfortable. I'm just not sure we're going to be easily able to teach her.

DH wants to take her back to the vet that we're used to using for a repeat check-up. He recently got a new partner, and we didn't realize when we made the appointment, that we had to request him. We just want to make sure nothing is going on with her ears that is worsening her hearing.

Her stool specimen was negative for worms, which was good.

I've tried to begin using hand signals to train her, but she won't even look at me long enough.

She sleeps about 23 hours a day, and paces for the other hour.

She was very thin, and we're feeding her Purina dog chow, but I'm thinking we should be using some vitamins too.

Any suggestions for training this poor little dogie, or anything else?


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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

How sad. You are good people to take on such a task.I wish I could offer some good advice but I don't have any. I suspect she snaps at your DH because she can't see or hear him. I haven't had dogs for years but I seem to remember there was something you could do to get their attention without the snapping. I'll try to remember it. Sandy

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:24PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I'm wondering about something electronic. They make those bark collars. I wonder if I could use something like a collar that vibrated from a wireless control? (For when I wanted her to go outside, or to come back in).
This is all very strange. She shakes her head alot, but the vet said her ears look okay. He said her teeth look fine, but when I can see the bottom front ones, they are even with the gumline. I'm thinking we need to take her back to be seen by our regular vet.
I bought a dog whistle yesterday, thinking she'd hear higher frequencies, but she doesn't budge. (But Suzi, my other dog runs me over!) haha
Thanks Sandy.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:51PM
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maryo_nh(z5 SouthernNH)

Catherine, I've been reading along with interest - I just don't have anything worthwhile to add. I just knew you'd eventually take her inside. You're so sweet to care about the old girl! Good wishes for finding something that works for her. Lack of hearing and seeing, if it needs touch, maybe an anti-anxiety preparation for the training period? Also, I know X-rays are expensive, but could be useful. One of our past cats wasn't eating one time and she turned out to have a broken tooth.

Do go see your own trusted vet. That's what I do when there's something important!

:) Mary

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 7:36PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Hi Cath,

I agree with Sandy, She probably nips when she's startled or surprised if she can't see or hear well. (Do watch out for infection DH.) You'll need to be very careful when children or other strangers are around her. If you have to catch her like the other night, use a leash, but thread the clip thru the handle to make a loop you can slip over her head instead of having to grab her collar - you should be able to keep your hands out of reach that way.

As far as training goes I have 2 suggestions for what they're worth.
1) Dogs with vision loss do very well in the house once they memorize where everything is, just like blind people. You can help her out outside by taking her on a walk around the yard perimeter once or twice a day for a week or 2. She will soon learn the boundaries. Always go in and out the same door and use the same route. Once she has learned the perimeter (also a good time to teach her to "do her business" in an apporpriate area) you can let her explore in rest of the backyard. Unless your yard is fence she'll need supervision.
2) Training with treats. Not all dogs are motivated but food (tho they are few and far between in my experience LOL!) But, many can be trained with treats if you find out what they REALLY like - the difference between filet mignon and a McD's hamburger patty let's say. Try little pieces of cheap hotdogs or braunschwiegert (in moderation).

I would definately go to your regular vet for a re-check.

Oh, you may also find she'll pace less (seems like anxiety to me) if she had her own "bed" or blanket in an out of the way corner where she knows she won't be startled. That may stop anyway once she really feels relaxed in her new surroundings.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 3:38PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks everyone,
Sarah.......that's a great idea about the leash. I can't believe we didn't think of that!
She's getting a little more used to the place, and trustful of us. But its nearly impossible getting her attention.
Fortunately, she's a very calm dog for the most part.
We have a big fenced in back yard but have realized that we have to take her out on a leash, since she doesn't seem to understand how to come back into the house.
She loves the snow, and just about dragged me through it!
On Saturday, when DH is home, I think we'll let her run loose in the fence-in yard. That way, there will be 2 of us to catch her and bring her in.
I try giving hand signals, assuming she's deaf, but she pays no attention to them. I'm thinking she can see shapes, but not much else. She seems to have no trouble going through the house or in the back yard.
Maybe she's a bit mentally handicapped??
Thanks for the suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 4:47PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

I haven't found any other advice so far other than what Sarah just said. Putting disabled and dog in a search only leads 99.99% to training dogs for the disabled. Gotta think other ways. I have always thought of crating as bad but this has changed my mind. I think a crate (cage, etc.) would greatly calm her anxieties if she knew she could get out when she needed.
I remember years ago reading that many dogs and other animals who wander freely are poisoned or severely damaged by ingesting antifreeze or other automotive chemicals. What I remember from that is blindness and brain damage. Hearing issues could be from noise, aging or a blow to the head as I am sure you already know. Do you have a frog, one of those clickers you often see at Halloween? I have heard they are useful. I think you are just going to have to try a lot of noisemakers to find one she responds to. I would try to find a transdermal electronic signal if all else fails, but they could be expensive. It is just a variation on that electronic fence you mention. Sandy
Once again, you are good people. Sandy

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 4:54PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks Sandy,
I hadn't thought of her having been poisoned (even accidentally), but that's a real possibility.
I would like to try one of those clickers, but haven't seen them forever. Any ideas where I'd find one?
Thanks for all your help.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 8:53AM
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Nipping hands - do I recall correctly that one shouldn't put your hand directly toward a dog's face as they may see it as aggression and nip or bite? With the dogs and cats we had, I showed my hand, not too close, and slowly moved to the side and to the animal. They followed with their eyes and saw it was not threatening--or so I thought. A semi-blind, apparently abused dog such as yours most likely distinguishes shapes and motion? If you are still having problems with the nipping and want to pet the dog, perhaps this will help--slow and patient and repetitive?

The poor dog's fortunes have changed so much for the better. Ditto to all the praise for you and family, health and happiness all around. What a warm story in cold times.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 10:26AM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Most pet stores sell clickers for training - little square things about 1.5" long. They make a nice loud click. Usually cost less than a dollar.

It's great you have a fenced yard. It's probably taking her longer to get familiar with it because snow will mask alot of scent she would use to distinguish landmarks. She'll learn where the door is in no time I bet, especially if you walk her about on a leash and always go in and out the same way.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 8:29PM
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I Knew you would take her in, you are truly good hearted. In time things tend to work out. You will learn her ways and she will learn yours. I had a friend who had a deaf dog. She would stomp with her foot to get the dog's attention, as the sound waves could be felt thru the floor.

Best of luck, I know if anyone can make this work, you can.

Warm Regards,

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 12:29AM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Oh yes Lisa! I'd forgotten about that! Another good tool.

How's it going Cath? You might also try a Gentle Leader, they tend to have a calming affect on dogs, much like a halter on a horse. It's much easier to 'guide' a dog with one on than with just a collar around their neck.

BTW, what's her name?


    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 8:24PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi everyone,
Molly has been in the house now for a month. She is an enigma to us. We haven't taken her back to the vet's yet (to have our more favorite vet take a look at her), nor have we taken her to any kind of obedience training.
The first vet said she was about 7-8 and had good teeth. We think he was waaaay off. I'm thinking 14-15, and she has no lower front teeth.
Fortunately, she is fairly easy to take care of. We have to take her outside every 4 hours, or she pees on the carpet.
I say she's an enigma because, well...we're not sure what's going on with her. We don't know if she's retarded, abused, deaf, blind or all of the above!
She just doesn't respond to anything. She does respond to "NO!" most of the time, but if we're not right in front of her, she doesn't hear us. But by "responding", I mean that she runs in the opposite direction.
She never just sits. She's either pacing, pacing, pacing, or laying down sleeping.
If we try to get her up gently from a laying-down position to go outside, she will nip at us and let out a growl. But for the most part, she seems fairly gentle. She's eating well.
She still has burrs in her ear fur, but she won't let us near them to get them out. I wonder if we gave her some benedryl, if we could get those out??
She gets along okay with our other dog, Suzi, but never seems to acknowledge her or play with her.
If we try to teach her anything, she runs away.
I wonder if her constant pacing and walking in circles means that she was once in a run?
She doesn't seem to have any joy, or know how to play.
The closest we've seen to her getting excited was when my daughter was home from college the other day and was practicing her french horn, and instead of just plain-old pacing, Molly was cantering around big circles, wagging her tail!
We were happy for her. It seemed to be the closest she's gotten to showing happiness. Maybe we should play french horn music for her all the time?? :)

Another thing.....she has no lower bottom front teeth. Why would that be? (or they are ground down to nubs).
Compared to how Suzi was when we first took her in (she was about 4 months old), Molly is a piece of cake! There are some good things about being old! haha
When DH and I talk about maybe taking her to obedience training, we just end up sort of laughing. You have to know Molly to appreciate our laughing. She's just in another universe. Although maybe with an expert, we'd realize that she's alot more trainable than we thought. We just haven't had the time or money. And we're not horribly motivated, since Molly is fairly well behaved.
We still put her in a crate if we're going to be gone more than a couple hours. I just feel like we don't truly know her yet, and I don't want to come home and find my cat and other dog dead, and the house all chewed up! What was the name of that dog.......Kujo?? hahaha
Anyhow......that's where we're at. She seems to fit in fairly quietly. In fact, ever since she came in from outside, she has rarely even barked.
It does give us pleasure to be nice to her. It makes us sad to picture her ending up where she would have, had we not taken her in. It makes us feel good to be able to give her a better life.
Thanks for asking!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 11:19AM
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Thanks for the update. She is so fortunate to be in your gentle care.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 12:29AM
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Gosh, I wonder if there is such a thing as doggie alzheimers? The pacing and some of the other symptoms you mention remind me of an elderly person with alzheimers.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 3:44PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I agree Anne........she does seem like she has Alzheimers!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 8:34PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

I hope I am not adding to any misinformation. The pacing could be an indication of neural damage. If she always paces in the same direction it could mean a deficentcy on just one side. It could have been caused by so many different things: ingestion of lead or other chemicals and metals, rat poison, physical injury, combination of hearing loss and visual loss, persistent starvation, abuse, lack of appropriate vitamins or other nutrients as in feeding all vegetarian products (this seems to be more common in cats), birth defect and probably as many more that I have never heard of since I am uneducated in animal medicine. As far as I can tell none of these injuries can be cured. The damage was done long before you ever saw her.
It doesn't sound like it is completely hopeless. She has been able to respond a little bit. It's just that it's not likely she will ever approach normal. You have to consider if her behavior is a danger to your family and home. Sandy

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 5:05PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I was wondering that too Sandy. Sometimes, she does go around in circles in the same direction. I think if we had small children, we couldn't keep her, but since we know how to avoid her biting us, I think we can live with it. Its a bit frustrating though. Like when she comes in from outside and her feet are dirty. If we try to clean them off, she's try to bite us. Fortunately, her teeth are pretty worn down! (probably from biting people. haha).
Today I just made her go into the dog crate and waited for the mud to dry and fall off. Didn't take long. I just view her as a disabled old soul. She's very easy to be around. And fortunately, our other dog Suzi seems to guide her. When its time to go outside, Suzi gets all excited and runs down the hall, so then Molly notices and slowly walks to the door.
Today, for some reason, she seemed to have alot of energy, pacing more than usual. So I let her outside and she ran and ran. It was cute. But then she fell down! Poor little old girl. But she was okay.
I'm just glad we're at a point in our lives when we can take the time to deal with her. Suzi and our cat have accepted her, so we're doing okay. I look at her and just have to feel compassion for the sweet thing. I just wish she could tell me her story.
Thanks Sandy.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 8:54PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

RIP Molly.
Molly's pacing got worse and worse and she was constantly going around in small circles. She began getting up at night and needing attention. She would get stuck in the rungs of chairs and in corners.
We did our best with her. She never seemed to have any joy. The only comfort we got was that she seemed to be very at peace when she would sleep. She became part of our family.
She finally quit eating and drinking and began falling all the time. We would give her water with a syringe.
Yesterday, we finally realized that she was just suffering too much, and had her put to sleep. It was an excrutiating decision.
We were there with her, whispering to her how much we loved her and how glad we were that she found us.
Even though her brain, eyes and ears weren't working right, she was a beautiful dog. Her fur was so soft and her ears were big and soft and floppy.
Hopefully, wherever she is now, she is running in a very straight line and she is filled with joy.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 10:19PM
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koijoyii(NE Ohio)

Oh Catherine:

I am so sorry to hear about Molly. God sent her to you and your husband because you are very special people. You had the time and patience for her till she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. There is a special place in Heaven for folks like you.

RIP Molly. Run with the angels.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 12:12AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Molly ran a long time to find you and your husband and a little bit of kindness, Catherine. Now she doesn't have to run anymore from all the things that drove her. All the bad things stopped when she found you, it was just that she had run so long it was all her poor mind and body could remember. Sometimes all you can do isn't ever going to be enough. You did all that anyone could or would do. Sandy

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 12:34AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thankyou Jenny and Sandy.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 11:56AM
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I am very sorry to hear about Molly passing. Thank you for giving her a warm and tender place during the end of her life. You are special.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 10:43PM
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Catherine, I saw this poem and thought of you.

A Light Lost

You were frightened, but you wanted to love.
You distrusted, but there were moments when - almost - you would rest your head.
You were always on guard, but you dreamed of learning to play.
You knew no one would protect you, but there were thoughts, or memories, of having a friend.
And we wanted to rescue you, to let you know you were safe.
If we had stroked your lovely coat just one more time.....
If we had run with you just a little faster, or more often, in the grass..... Then maybe you would have been able to believe.

We will never know if we failed you, or if life had failed you too harshly before we met.
We will not know if you heard us and couldn't answer, or if you had lost the power to hear before we spoke.
We cannot know if you will forgive and wait for us at the Bridge, But we know that we will look for you.
You, also, are one of ours -- and we loved you as best we could.

by Elizabeth Sommers

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 6:31PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thank you Lisa and Glenda.

Oh made me cry! That is absolutely perfect for how we felt about Molly! Thank you so much for sharing this poem with me. It really gives words to our feelings. It is very comforting.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 8:36PM
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sheepco(MN z4)


My heart goes out to you and DH, thankfully she had your love at the end.
Beautiful poem Glenda, Thank you for sharing it with us all...tissues please...


    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 8:20PM
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Awww, so sorry about Molly. I'm sure that the love you gave her helped heal many hurts in her life. I love the poem Glenda...

I, too, believe totally in the Rainbow Bridge and that our pets greet us when we cross over. I know at that time that Molly will be able to let you know how much you meant to her.

Love ya,

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 7:07PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks Sarah and Anne. I miss her.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 5:44PM
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lefd05(z5/6 westCO)

Catherine, I was just now reading this thread.
I'm sorry for your loss of Molly. You did a good thing, both by taking her in and also by letting her go.:)
Reading through all the posts, the very first thing that came to my mind was the doggie version of dementia. The constant pacing and the fact that she wouldn't focus on things such as treats, etc. are pretty classic signs.
She probably didn't have a clue about many things or know what she was supposed to do. Letting her go was setting her free.:)

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:47PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks lefd. I do so hope she's happy now.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:21PM
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