When Mom and Dad were told about me from my foster mom, they were told that I was "partially" deaf. That is all the foster mom was told too, so what "partially" deaf meant was not really known. After my foster mom picked me up, the fur doctor said I had an ear infection, and maybe that had to do with my deafness. Mom doesn't think that is the case, as it seems I was very well taken care of by my first parents.
Mom did a little bit of research as they were waiting for me to be ready for them, and this is what she learned from the Great Dane Club of America:
When breeding any two merle-bearing Danes (Harlequins, Merles, Whites), some of the offspring can be expected to receive two copies of the merle gene and thus be defined as white Danes. Danes predominately white are typically deaf and may have various eye anomalies. Such dogs can occur from breeding Harlequins to merles or whites (or merles or whites to each other). When breeding Mantle or Black Danes to Harlequins, these merle whites cannot be produced, so mating Harlequins to Blacks or Mantles significantly reduces the risk of producing Danes with the sensory defects associated with the merle gene.
it goes on to say...
White Great Danes frequently have little or no pigment in the middle ear thus causing deafness. A change in the number of mature melanocytes located in the hair follicles or the composition of pigment-loaded melanosomes will affect the color in the growing hair shaft. Within the middle ear sound waves are translated into nerve impulses, which the brain in turn interprets as sound. This is done by sound waves at the eardrum causing movement in the fluid within the middle ear. Small hairs, which sit in a bed of pigment, detect this movement. As the hairs move they move the pigment, which in turn, is detected by the nerves. The effects of the merle gene can also result in a variety of eye abnormalities, including congenital cataracts associated with microphthalmia, enophthalmia, medial canthal syndrome, colombomata, tapetal hypoplasia, and heterochromia iridis/hypochromia iridis.
Since the merle gene has an unusual characteristic called somatic cell mutation, where some cells have reverted to the normal recessive form of the gene, homozygous merle dogs can therefore produce some pigment. So it is common to see some spotting on the heads and rumps of white Great Danes and this is the result of this somatic cell mutation. When this occurs within the middle ear, it can restore some hearing and provide for normal eyesight and eye structure in some white Great Danes. Not all white Great Danes will be noticeably deaf or necessarily have sight issues, but the majority of white Danes will be affected.
All that mumbo-jumbo to say, since I am a "Merlequin," Mom thinks that it was genetic that I have deafness. Also, my beautiful blue eyes come from my genetics too, fortunately I can see fine.
So, how do I hear all these stories and things that Mom tells me? I listen to her heart! Yes, I am perceptive like that. One day I came home from walking with dad, and mom had some leaking from her eyes. She said she had just watched a sweet dog video, so I licked her eyes. See, I can hear her heart.
But I do admit, there are some times that I get confused. Like when she is not relaxed, I cannot hear her heart and I sometimes do the wrong thing, or don't do the right thing. But she says that is not too often. The hardest thing for me is when both mom and dad are gone and out of my sight for a long time. Because I can't see them, I get a bit scared. I try to nap the time away, but a young pup like me has a lot of energy. So sometimes, I have to let it out a bit...
How much I can really hear is still unknown. I don't even flinch when an emergency vehicle passes us on our walk. Sometimes I notice a motorcycle, but usually not until it is next to me and I can sleep through all kinds of noise (even Mom and Dad sneaking out the door- hmmpph!) But once in a while, when there is a middle pitched sound, I respond and look around. An admirer once commented that I may be pitch or tone deaf. But for now, Mom and Dad just speak to me with their hearts and hands. They still talk out loud and get mommy and daddy voices, and then they laugh at themselves realizing it is only for their own enjoyment. But deep down, they want to believe I can hear those voices too.
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