It’s an unfair generalization to say teenagers don’t listen. Some do, some don’t.
But when you’re talking about dogs, it’s a pretty accurate assertion. But it’s not always because of faulty hearing.
True, nerves lose some of their conductive efficiency, and the tympanic membrane and other sensory apparatus becomes less responsive after years of use. You don’t even have to have a dog that listens to AC/DC for that to happen.
But behavior affects the appearance of “listening.”
Some dogs hear you calling their name, but if there’s no treat involved, you may just not be as important as that comfy spot on the couch. I often tell clients this is a dog that is hard-of-listening, not hard-of-hearing. They usually chuckle and nod in agreement.
Sadly, for Lemmy, it’s more than just stubbornness and changing values. He’s responding less and less to his family. His appetite is finicky at best. And he becomes confused almost every day.
He’s on medication to slow the progress of his disease, but there’s no way to reverse it. In fact, there’s no way to fully stop the onslaught. A special diet seemed to help for a while, but he’s no longer a fan of that food.
My checks with his family have been by phone for the past three months, and I can hear the worry in their voices. We’re fighting a losing battle. But it’s hard to give up on your pal.
They ask me how to know when it’s time to make that final decision. General considerations are somewhat obvious: Does he eat? Can he sleep comfortably? Is he free from pain most of the time? Does he interact with his family normally?
But more importantly for individual animals is a personal checklist. Things that matter to that dog, regardless of what other dogs might think. If he loved tennis balls for years, then lost interest, it means something.
I suggest the family make a list of a dozen or so items that mean something to Lemmy. They’ll monitor his interests, and I’ll do an exam in two weeks.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at email@example.com.