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Helping A Blind and Deaf Dog Enjoy Life

When people learn that we have a blind and deaf dog, their most common response is to feel sorry for him. We appreciate the concern, but Ty doesn’t need any sympathy. Yes, he’s lost two of his senses, and that’s taken some adjustments. We’ve had to learn some new tricks. But Ty’s happy, and helping a blind a deaf dog enjoy life isn’t as hard as it sounds.

A blind and deaf Shar-pei dog in a stroller with yellow foliage in the background

 

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The Joys of Getting Older

Dogs can lose their vision and hearing in a number of ways. In Ty’s case, both of those senses faded as he got older. He was almost 13 when vision faded completely. But we’d known for a while it was coming. He’d been on medication for chronic dry eye for years, and it was only a matter of time before that condition took his sight.

It was harder to tell exactly when Ty lost his hearing, because he’s pretty much ignored us his whole life. He is a cat in a dog’s body. And an aloof cat, at that.

Unless there is food involved, Ty’s not the least bit interested in our human wants and needs. In fact, we only realized that he was deaf when one day he didn’t come running to the crinkle of a potato chip bag!

Amy from GoPetFriendly.com holding Ty, the blind and deaf Shar-pei dog

In any case, Ty is now 14.5 years old – significantly past the average life expectancy for a Shar-pei. And, if his being blind and deaf is the tradeoff for an exceptionally long time together, we’ll gladly take it.

READ MORE ⇒   How to help a dog with arthritis keep going

Safety First

Our first concern when Ty started going blind was keeping him safe. We got a folding pet gate to block off the stairs and watched closely so he didn’t tumble off a curb or run into things on walks.

Keeping Ty’s environment familiar also became important, and that’s a cinch in the Winnebago! Rearranging the furniture isn’t an option, and his bed and bowls are always kept in the same spots. We don’t leave shoes laying on the floor where they could trip him, and we try to remember to close drawers and cabinets so they don’t become unexpected obstacles for him.

Ty the deaf and blind dog laying in his comfy bed in the GoPetFriendly.com Winnebago

One thing we added was a long, rubber-backed runner down the length of the motorhome. This allows Ty to use his sense of touch to determine where he is in the RV. Near one end of the runner is his bed. Near the other are the food and water bowls. And if he doesn’t feel the runner under his paws, he knows he’s heading down the hallway to the bedroom.

 

Staying Engaged

Keeping a blind and deaf dog engaged means turning up the activity for their other senses – especially smell. Even when they can see and hear, dogs interact with the world primarily with their noses. Simple activities like sniffing the grass, working a treat puzzle, or gnawing on a toy make Ty happy.

Ty from GoPetFriendly.com

Variety is the Spice of Life

Mixing things up makes life more interesting for all pets, but it’s especially important with a blind and deaf dog. Extra odiferous and tasty snacks like Beams Fish Skins from the Honest Kitchen always get Ty’s attention.

Dropping a couple treats in his bed while he’s bopping around the RV, or leaving a few in his path where he’s sure to find them keeps Ty wondering what wonderful thing will appear next. Healthy treats like Freeze Dried Salmon from Ageless Paws are the perfect little surprises.

And, even though he can’t hear the squeakers, he still enjoy a chance to maul a new toy.

Ty the blind and deaf dog chewing on a toy from BarkBox in the GoPetFriendly.com Winnebago

If we weren’t moving around all the time, I’d consider getting Ty a PetTreater subscription box to make sure he always had a variety of goodies to keep him entertained. BarkBox is another option that gets a good review in this pet subscription box review by Jessica at YouDidWhatWithYourWiener.com

That’s How We Roll

Another thing we do to delight Ty’s senses is to take him for strolls. When his vision faded he started walking really slowly, so covering any distance with him was a challenge … until we got a pet stroller.

READ MORE ⇒  Ty’s Stroller Reviews

Now we can take him to the ocean, the forest, up mountains, and along rivers. And he loves it! His head might get heavy, and his eyes might be closed, but his little nose is always working.

Buster and Ty, the GoPetFriendly.com dogs, on a pet friendly trail with waterfalls in the background Ty and Buster from GoPetFriendly.com on a pet friendly trail in Coeur d'Alene, ID

Let People Know

It’s easy to startle a blind and deaf dog, so we always let people know about Ty’s special needs and ask them to let him sniff their hand before they pet him. We also let any visitors to our home know about Ty’s limitations so they can make accommodations for him.

 

Even though Ty is blind and deaf, he’s still a happy dog. In fact, I’m convinced he’s happier now than ever! Surprise treats and toys, time to sniff the bushes to his heart’s content, humans strolling him from place to place … I think he’s got us right where he wants us. And we couldn’t be more grateful!

Gear Used in This Post:
(Affiliate Links)

Folding Pet Gate

Chilewich Rubber-backed Mat

Beams Fish Skin Snacks

Ageless Paws Salmon Freeze Dried Treats

ibiyaya Pet Stroller

See all the gear we use to make traveling with our pets easier, safer, and more fun!

 

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  • Deb Meyer says:

    My puggle Hooch has been blind for about 5 years. He has done so well because of his hearing. Now Sadly he is going deaf too and for the first time ever I see he is scared. We are a pair. He loves his walks and out time together and until your article I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t know how to make his life easier too reading your article. The idea of the carpet on the floor guiding him is a great idea. And he does love to eat. But yes, can’t hear the crunching of the bag anymore. But does tell me when it’s time to feed him. There’s nothing wrong with his internal timing mechanisms when it comes to to food!! Thanks for the article. I have new hope to make Hooch’s life continue to be the best.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      I’m so happy that my post was able to help you and Hooch, Deb! It’s often difficult watching them go through these transitions, but my experience is that they adapt pretty quickly to their new circumstances. With your help and love, I’m sure you two will find a way to continue enjoying life together. Good luck!

  • Linda Thomas says:

    Years ago, if a dog became blind or deaf, owners would usually “put the dog down” to “”stop the suffering”. I’ve had dogs who grew old, deaf, blind, but still enjoyed life. Thanks!

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      You’re so right, Linda! Ty is clearly not suffering, and we’re all enjoying our time together. Thanks for your note!

  • Elvis's Mom says:

    Thank you for sharing this. My 16-year-old dog has been deaf for a few years, and is starting to go blind as well. I’m beginning the process of making things safer around our home, but it’s hard not to get sad for him. Thanks for the reminder that it’s up to me to make sure the time he has is happy, and that he still gets to enjoy his life. Ty is a great role model.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      We’re happy to share what we’re learning as our boys get older, and thanks for your note. I’m so glad our experience can help you and Elvis! All our best to you both.

  • Pam says:

    I really appreciate this story. My Cocker Spaniel just become blind and deft.
    It’s hard for us to see him struggling with his disability that’s breaks our heart. Reading your story gives me a lot of ideas how to help my dog how to adapt to his disability. Thank you

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      I’m so glad we’re able to help, Pam! It can feel overwhelming when things change. Remember, dogs don’t think about the way things used to be and get discouraged. They accept what is, and go from there. I find it’s easier to help Ty and Buster through their challenges when I do the same. Good luck to you!

  • Sandy says:

    I was so inspired when I read your story. My little Sadie is 11 and she is losing her hearing as well as developing dementia, but I wouldn’t give her up for anything. She is my girl and she knows it! Thanks for the great story of Ty!

  • Tracy Elaine Collins says:

    Love all the great pictures of Ty (& Buster!)!! I wonder if Ty’s extended life isn’t in direct relation to the loving & thoughtful care you provide for him. He & Buster are 2 lucky dogs (as are their owners). :-)

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Thank you, Tracy! We do our best to take care of the boys, and we’re so grateful to have had them with us for as long as we have.

  • Cynthia Ibanez says:

    I’m just amazed on the amount of love and care Ty & Buster receive from you. You are the a great Parent mentor- I am certain to many! Keep enjoying them- I know I do‼️

  • Crystal says:

    I loved read about this dog and how he overcame several tough obstacles especially not being able to hear or see. What a beautiful dog. God Bless you for helping him and taking care of him.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Thank you, Crystal. Ty’s always been a character and a tough little cookie. We’ve been lucky to have him.

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