Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ray the Yarn Hound

It was almost 7:00 a.m.. I thought I heard Ray moving around so I dragged myself out of bed to let him out. Maybe I could get some knitting done. I was dying to knit with the yarn I had spent untangling Friday night, a gorgeous silk/merino wool blend that was as soft as a dogs undercoat.
When I got downstairs Ray was still curled up on his bed sleeping (I hate it when that happens). I opened the sliding glass door to let him out, got out his food and filled up his dish, then headed out front to get the paper. I noticed that the potted plants were looking a little wilty so I pulled the hose from the rain barrel to water them. Five minutes. Maybe ten. When I got to the front door, I heard a ripping sound. I yanked it open to see Ray with my yarn in a tangle on the floor. I had left it on the windowsill behind the couch (HOW DOES HE KNOW??? HE'S BLIND!!!).
I saw red. 
"Aggggghhhhhhh!," I yelled, and whacked him with the newspaper. 
Undeterred, Ray barely flinched, the mess of yarn still clenched in his jaws. "BAH!!" I yelled. 
I grabbed his snout and pried the yarn from his mouth. He wasn't giving up easily. (I gotta admire him, he really knows his yarn - if I was going to fight over a yarn, this would probably be the one.) 
"BAD DOG," I said sternly. 
Ray made another grab for it. 
I opened the sliding door in the living room and said "Outside." 
Ray went.
I looked at the yarn in my hands. Because of the silk, it's a bit slippery and doesn't stay balled very well. It was a mess but didn't look nearly as bad as it had on Friday night. 
 "Stupid dog," I muttered under my breath as I sat down to untangle it. 
I am no longer a knitter. I am just an untangler. But, I looked at the bright side, at least I was still working with yarn, just not as productively as before. I wondered if the welder could make me a metal cage for a single ball of yarn. I didn't think wood would be strong enough to keep my yarn hound away.
I watched Ray poke around the patio while I sat and untangled. He grabbed an egg carton from the patio table, it hadn't quite made it to the compost pile the day before, and shredded it then moped around for a bit picking up acorns and chewing them. It's a banner year for acorns, they're coming down in buckets and Ray, apparently, is part squirrel.
I gave him about a 10 minute timeout then let him back in. He made a grab for the ball of yarn in my hands. (Wow! What persistence! If he only had opposable thumbs I would definitely try to teach him how to knit). I "Bah"ed, and Ray, knowing when he was licked (for now) headed to his toy basket to chew on the handle. I went to the emergency rawhide bone stash, which we had replenished the day before, followed excitedly by my dog. He already knows where they are. I gave him a bone which he happily tossed in the air a couple times before settling down in the front hall for a nice chew.
It was 7:30.
We took Ray for a nice long walk. It was already starting to heat up. Ray was lagging by the time we got to the street that intersects ours (four houses away from being home). Ray flopped. I took the spritzer and squirted water into my hand for Ray to lap up. After ingesting a teaspoon of water he revived enough to make it home. He's starting to remind me of a southern Belle. I can see him saying with a strong southern accent "I think I am going to swoon," as he flops over with one paw pressed to his forehead.
When we got home, I took a handful of ice cubes and tossed them in his water dish. Ray went to the dish, stuck his snout underwater, blowing bubbles out his nose, and went bobbing for cubes. Water sloshed over the sides of the dish and all over the tray. I took a towel and stationed myself next to the dish wiping up the water. Again and again he bobbed until he had eaten all of the cubes. The dish was mostly devoid of water. I went to get a dry towel and mopped his face. We were having a good time.


  1. hi - i loved Ray's story. I have a Boston Terrier(only 5 years old) who is going blind. I am scared. Ray's story gives me some hope that maybe Kramer(my dog) will be able to manuever better than I hoped. could you tell me how Ray manages stairs, or does he? How about when you go for walks and come to the end of the sidewalk. Does he "sense" these things? I just don't know how to help him.

  2. The eye specialist that I took Ray to gave me a printout with some helpful tips on it. The very first one says "No matter how it seems or feels right now...your dog's blindness is much harder on you than it is for him/her. Eyesight ranks #3 in importance compared to smell and hearing to your dog."
    It took Ray a bit to get used to the stairs. At first he would put both paws on the bottom stair and stretch waaaaayyyyy up. Then the second stair and stretch waaaaayyyyyyy up. But his incentive to go up was strong (there's cat food up there!) and eventually he just went. Coming down was harder. He still doesn't like to come down the stairs but I have found that he will do ANYTHING for food. Keep a bag of training treats handy.
    Ray figured out curbs amazingly fast. At first he tripped over all of them, then he started lifting his feet, doing a high-step as he got nearer. Now the only time he misses one is when he is distracted by sound/smell of another dog or a persons voice.
    The printout that the vet gave me has a couple websites on it. and
    Maybe something on one of those will help you.
    Good luck to you and Kramer!