Will This Work For My Dog?
For BlindSight® to work for a dog, the dog must have good high frequency hearing. In practical terms, this can be tested with a common "silent" dog whistle. If a dog can hear a "silent" dog whistle they can probably hear the BlindSight® unit signal as well. The BlindSight® unit uses frequencies above the human hearing range to provide echo information that may be "decoded" by the dog's own brain to provide a virtual picture of it's surroundings. Dogs with poor high frequency hearing are unlikely to be helped. Even dogs that seem deaf by human standards may still benefit from the BlindSight® unit IF their high frequency hearing is still intact!
White dogs, dogs whose interior ear is white, dogs that have "deadly merle on merle" breeding or that have other conditions that frequently result in both deafness as well as blindness may be poor candidates for BlindSight® use.
Dogs of extremely advanced age may not be able to adapt to using the unit, even if their hearing is still otherwise good.
Dogs that have spent several years confined to crates or small cages may not be able to adapt. Contact us about possible workarounds for this group.
As of 4/2015 the weight of the basic unit is such that dogs under 30 pounds may have trouble just carrying the unit. For these dogs a new smaller and lighter unit will be available soon for dogs down to 11.5 pounds. This unit is designated BlindSight® -S. The BlindSight® -S has a single power level and has a battery life of around 6 weeks. The BlindSight® unit for large dogs has 2 power levels and has a battery file of up to 18+ months with an alkaline battery and up to 3.5 years with lithium batteries.
The choice to equip a blind dog with a BlindSight® unit is a very serious decision, as once the dog has fully adapted to the unit it would be cruel in the extreme to take it away. When the first version of the unit was installed on Jordy it had a battery life of less than a month. Another dead battery was accidentally used to replace a used battery. When the unit would not work Jordy would not leave his owners bedroom until the problem was discovered and fixed several days later. His recently gained confidence was gone and it took him over a week to get it back. We were careful never to make that mistake again! The production units have a very long battery life. Still, it is up to a dog's owner to use good quality batteries and to make sure spares are always available.
Dog's hearing IS different than humans, even in the way hearing loss works.
As humans age they tend to lose high frequency hearing first. Frequently, older people will complain that they can hear that someone is talking, but cannot hear the words well enough to understand them. They may even complain that everyone sounds "under water". This phenomenon usually results from extreme high frequency hearing loss! As humans age at least some of this is normal for everyone. Typically, high frequency hearing goes first, the rest of the hearing range later!
Dogs hearing IS different! Typically, as a dog ages, first it loses it's low frequency hearing. Often, even a dog that is quite old will have good high frequency hearing (from 15khz to over 40khz). This is why a dog that seems deaf when you try to talk to it will still get excited when a strange car pulls into your driveway or a stranger walks up to your door! What the dog is hearing in these cases is high frequency sound outside the normal human hearing range. People will sometimes talk or joke about some dog have "selective" hearing. In many cases the dog has no control over it's "selective" hearing. It still hears sounds you and I do not, it just can't hear what we think of as "normal" human speech and similar sounds.