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Pipedream Farm

Early onset of adult hearing loss

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We are very pleased that Dr. Teressa Chu, from the Vet school at Saskatoon, SK,

will be providing BAER Testing free at the trial. She is trying to gain enough

Border Collies for a research study of adult hearing loss in our breed.

 

Please bring a copy of your dogs pedigree for her research.

 

Thank you for helping in this study.

 

Dave Fetterman

Source: Sheepdog-l

 

I wish to express many thanks to Dave Fetterman for setting up and paying for this clinic. He, for personal reasons, has facilitated the Dr. Chu's first step in determining if there is a genetic link in early onset of adult hearing loss. Dr. Chu and Dave were anticipating about 40 dogs for her clinic. We were told that on both Friday & Saturday she had 35 dogs; we had not heard the final total count.

 

Dr. Chu said she found many "normals" in young and middle aged dogs. She was also provided with a few examples of known middle age deaf dogs and a couple more were found/confirmed by the clinic. I know of at least one case were there was early onset within family lines.

 

A great outcome from this clinic was the plans for her to attend another trial to run another clinic for data collection.

 

Thank you Dave and Dr. Chu

 

Mark

 

************************************************************************************

P.S. I'm adding this here for reference (edit 5/10/05).

 

What is the BAER test?

The hearing test known as the brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) or brainstem auditory evoked potential (BAEP) detects electrical activity in the cochlea and auditory pathways in the brain in much the same way that an antenna detects radio or TV signals or an EKG detects electrical activity of the heart. The response waveform consists of a series of peaks numbered with Roman numerals: peak I is produced by the cochlea and later peaks are produced within the brain. The response from an ear that is deaf is an essentially flat line. In the sample recordings shown below, Puppy 1 heard in both ears, Puppy 2 was deaf in the left ear, Puppy 3 was deaf in the right ear, and Puppy 4 was deaf in both ears. Because the response amplitude is so small it is necessary to average the responses to multiple stimuli (clicks) to unmask them from the other unrelated electrical activity that is also present on the scalp (EEG, muscle activity, etc).

 

The response is collected with a special computer through extremely small electrodes placed under the skin of the scalp: one in front of each ear, one at the top of the head, and one between and behind the eyes. It is rare for a dog to show any evidence of pain from the placement of the electrodes - if anything the dog objects to the gentle restraint and the irritation of wires hanging in front of its face. The stimulus click produced by the computer is directed into the ear with a foam insert earphone. Each ear is tested individually, and the test usually is complete in 10-15 minutes. Sedation or anesthesia are usually not necessary unless the dog becomes extremely agitated, which can usually be avoided with patient and gentle handling. A printout of the test results, showing the actual recorded waveform, is provided at the end of the procedure. Test results are confidential, but anonymous details will be used in Dr. Strain's ongoing deafness research for later publication and education of veterinary practitioners.

 

baerscan.gif

 

 

Dr. George M. Strain

Louisiana State University

Comparative Biomedical Sciences

School of Veterinary Medicine

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803

Phone: 225-578-9758

Fax: 225-578-9769

E-mail: strain@lsu.edu

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I would like to second Mark's thanks to Dave Fetterman. I was one of those who found out that I have a deaf dog. My Glen is bilaterally severely hearing impaired, and, while he has some residual hearing, he will soon be deaf. He is 7 years old and I bought him two years ago hoping he could take us into Open. While this is a heartbreak, it certainly explains a lot for this bighearted dog. He's been offering random behaviors on the field in response to whistles or verbals, or just shutting down. In retrospect, I think he's been hearing enough to know something is being asked of him but not enough to know what that something is. And he tries and tries and tries and you can see him stressing out and then just shutting down. I am only sorry that he's spent a significant amount of time being corrected -- however mildly -- for something that was not his fault and was undoubtedly confusing and upsetting to him. Being the soft dog he is, it caused him to shut down and get into a kind of "learned helplessness" mode.

 

For the near future, I'll keep letting him work sheep on his own terms, and hopefully he can still have some fun with it. And he'll just be the lovey dovey house dog that he's so good at -- either with me or a really good pet home.

 

I know that lots of people on the Boards know -- or have tried to work -- Glen. So now you also know what at least part of the problem has been.

 

Pat

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Mark, did Dr. Chu have any feelings for when her research and work will be published? I think the "late onset" issue is extremely interesting, but other than annecdotes, haven't seen anything on it. Does she believe there are certain lines that carry it, or does she attribute it to something else?

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Pat, this just breaks my heart. :rolleyes: It does explain a lot about Glen. I don't know why I never thought to check his hearing. His behavior was just so random. I did think he was confused, but I thought it was because he been with so many different people.

 

I also understand the heartbreak for you. My Cap was supposed to take me into Open. The situation was very much like yours with Glen, but Cap's loss was vision instead of hearing.

 

I feel so badly for Glen, going through all those corrections when it wasn't his fault. I'm glad he's still a happy fellow and has a good home.

 

My thoughts are with you.

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Laurie,

 

Let me see if I can remember how Dr. Chu described what lead her to this study.

 

She does the hearing tests at her vet school and she had a client come in with a Border Collie with hearing loss. The client asked if early hearing loss is genetic in Border Collies and Dr. Chu told her there was no information on this type of hearing loss having a genetic link. The client found this odd since she also has the dam and she had early hearing loss. Dr. Chu then did a literature search and still found no studies suggesting a genetic link to this type of hearing loss. She then asked Border Collie owners (on a Canadian forum) for examples of dogs with early hearing loss and received several emails with antidotal evidence of such. All this lead her to the idea of collecting data (Baer test results and DNA) to determine if there is a genetic link. This data would then be used to determine if a full study should be initiated and a search for the gene responsible.

 

She is trying to collect enough Baer hearing test data to find when hearing loss "normally" occurs due to aging so that she can say any hearing loss before x years of age is likely due to something else. She is trying to collect Baer hearing test data and DNA samples of dogs with no evidence of early hearing loss, "Normals", and possible early hearing loss data & DNA samples to use in the searching for genetic code differences.

 

Mark

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I want to also thank the Fettermans for hosting this clinic at their trial. Many folks know of Dave's dog, and can only imagine the heartbreak of working with a dog only to find that they would do for you if they only knew what you wanted. I hope people would try to consider this as a possibility when an animal begins to have trouble coming through for you.

As I understand it, Dr. Chu is a long way off from being able to determine genetic links to this problem, if it is found to be a concern with our dogs. I brought Dave's dogs' dam (Beryl) to be tested, as well as a 4 year old out of her (Heather Lacy) and a six month old (Jane Lacy Crowder). Beryl had reduced hearing in both ears, but she is 9 years old. It would have been definately interesting to see what her hearing was at 5 years old, when perhaps she may have begun to have problems. Heather and Jane both have no problems, and we will endeavor to stay with the program, so to speak, and have them tested every year. I am anxious to see where this takes us. Meanwhile, Beryl hears okay up close, and suits me fine as a pen dog.

 

Thanks again to Dave for his efforts to keep our minds open to the possibility that our "bad" dogs might be giving us all they've got to work with.

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I was planning on going, but went to Breezy Hill instead. My dogs have all been previously BAER tested individually, (some as pups, some as adults). I don't seen any signs of hearing loss in mine at this point (although a couple of related dogs are known Uni's, hence the testing.) I wonder if Dr Chu would want copies of their pedigrees/tests already done. When I was considering going up to PA, Dave F said to bring that stuff along, so she could compare them. Would having BAER tests/pedigrees on previously tested adult dogs who are normal be helpful to the study? If so, what age-range would she consider useful? I know a number of BAER tested dogs...we could mail the paperwork to her if she can use it.

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Laurie,

 

these are all good questions for Dr. Chu and perhaps Dave could pass them along to her or give you her email. Ask Dave.

 

Mark

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Laurie,

 

If you could get a cheek swab (extremely simple) for DNA and send that and a copy of the BAER with age, etc., info to Theresa, I bet that would help. Ask Dave for her e-mail address to find out more.

 

I'm so glad that this seems to be raising awareness.

 

Deb's statement about it being heartbreaking to know what these dogs would do for you if only they knew what you wanted went straight to the core of me. That's exactly it. Thanks, Deb.

 

Pat

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