It’s been an interesting week. My dog seemed to suddenly lose her hearing, and although she’s an older dog, it seemed to me that her hearing would fade gradually, not overnight.
I was concerned, but it took a while before I could get her in to see the vet. Meanwhile, life became very interesting.
The first thing I noticed was her routine changed. She stopped laying in her usual places and started spending a lot of time in the basement. And I mean a LOT of time. I would forget where she was, and walk out in the back yard and call for her, then realize that she had come in hours ago, and find her in a dark corner of the basement, looking sheepish.
At first, I didn’t think a lot about it. But then she stopped waking me up in the morning. She actually slept in, and one morning I walked right up to her and she never heard it. I tickled her paw to wake her up, and she opened her eyes with a surprised look on her face. She stopped welcoming me at the door when I would come home at the end of the day. I didn’t realize how happy that made me until the day I had to walk into the house, all the way to the kitchen, put my things down, and call her name, and no one came.
I found her in the dining room, facing away from me, and when I spoke to her again, she paused for a moment, as if she thought she had heard something, then spun around and was really happy to see me.
It’s a bit unnerving to sneak up on your own dog, who has always seemed to have super powers when it comes to awareness of her surroundings. I started to think about what might have happened.
A few weeks earlier, she had been to the vet for her annual checkup, and the doctor found some stuff in her ear, and gave me something for it. Unfortunately, she has very furry ears, and it was very difficult to see just how much I was dosing her. Combine that with a poorly designed applicator that wouldn’t stop when the pressure was released, and you have trouble.
Long story short, it was way too much, and her ears were plugged with the medicine.
This became all too apparent the night a big summer storm hit. The sky in the west turned a dark purply blue, and the front came in like a freight train.
For some reason, I was blissfully unaware of the weather conditions and made a decision to head to the dog park. It started to sprinkle on our way there, but this has happened many times, and I figured it was just a sprinkle and would clear up in no time, and what’s a few rain drops anyway, right?
We got to the park, and I could see the clouds around the park, but wasn’t sure which way they were headed. Many times the clouds pass by without a problem. Still, I stayed near the front of the park while my dog wandered around the tall grass not far from me, so we could make a break for the car if need be.
She continued to wander up the hill, and I could hear the thunder and see the lightning. I figured so could my dog, but she didn’t seem to react. When we’re home during a storm, she’s practically in my lap she’s so afraid, so this was strange.
She began to head down the path around the park, assuming we were doing our usual circuit. I tried to call her back, but I knew she couldn’t hear me. She then took the path along the fence perimeter, as she loves to do, keeping an eye on me as she went. I tried to signal her at every opportunity, doing a verbal recall enhanced with big arm and hand signals, but she continued to ignore them.
I realized the dark clouds were moving much faster than I first anticipated and grew concerned. We were now under the big trees, and the frequency of lightning and thunder was increasing. I knew we had to get out of the park immediately.
I turned to call to her again to find her walking up to me out of the tall grass. I immediately clipped on her leash and began running back to the car. This was pretty comical, because I don’t run, and haven’t run for a long time. I was thankful there was no one around to witness it.
I had to stop halfway and catch my breath, my chest feeling heavy with the effort. I thought, “This is it, this is how I die … in a dog park, with my dog.” Seemed fitting.
My dog seemed puzzled about the big rush I was in, but continued along with me. As we neared the gate, the dark clouds, now tinged with yellow, were directly over us, and I was praying pretty hard at this point. We got in the car just as the big winds hit, and I spun the car around and headed for home as fast as I could manage.
The strange light from the fast-moving front made the trip home a bit surreal. The winds whipped the trees around madly, and all the traffic seemed to be pushing to get somewhere, fast. We flew into the driveway and then the garage, and I got the dog into the house as fast as I could.
Raining now, I headed to the street to secure the garbage bin, knowing it would blow to who-knows-where in the impending storm if I didn’t. Returning to the safety of the house, I ran to the front window to watch the storm roll in.
As I caught my breath, the dog signaled she wanted to sit outside on the porch, and that’s where she spent the entire storm, calmly laying by the front door as unprepared passers-by shrieked out in shock as they ran through the deluge.
Next time, I thought to myself, check the weather before heading to the dog park. And the dog? No worries … the ear wash the vet gave me took care of the problem, and all is well.
Originally published June 2, 2017.