Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas with Ray the Blind Dog

Christmas was INSANE. Ray woke me up by thumping on the kitchen door at about 7am. I grabbed my robe and sweats and headed downstairs to let him outside. While he was out taking care of business, I put some food in his bowl, then let him back in and returned to the sink to clean up the cat dishes and a few things from the night before. I heard squeaking.
I walked into the hallway and saw Ray with his first present, a roll of 4 squeaky kong tennis balls, already half unwrapped. He was going to town on the squeaker of one of them, tossing the package into the air, spinning around, tail wagging madly.
I ran to get my cellphone to snap a few pictures but it was woefully unequal to the task of getting Ray in action on a dim morning. I ran to get my video camera. By the time I got back, Ray was working on his second present, a two- pack of flavored rawhide chews from my sister Kathy.
I recorded the event which turned into a game of keepaway. Gregg came down to join us. Hugo watched balefully from the stairs.
Gregg handed Ray his third present for the day and wished him a Merry Christmas. Ray settled down to open the present, revealing a rawhide bone with knots on the end like a pretzel.
Another gameof keepaway ensued. Then back to the flavored rawhide bones. Then to the tennis balls. Ray killed the squeaker on one and returned to the rawhide chews. He picked one up and headed outside followed by his videographer. Another game of keepaway followed by a burial.
We returned to the tree where Ray picked out a few of the cat toys and tried to open them. I insisted that he leave them for the cats. Then he picked up one of my presents and started to chew it. I took it away. He was nosing aggressively through everything interspersed with picking up his bones and tossing them in the air. (He quickly lost interest in the tennis balls.) Ray was a whirlwind of activity.
Gregg and I opened a few presents but Ray was enthusiastically entering into the spirit of Christmas by trying to eat my two new hoodies (thanks mom!), an earring box (thanks Kath!), and other packages (thanks Mary!). We closed him off in the kitchen while we finished opening presents, put everything breakable or edible up, then let Ray out. He returned to his bones.
Later that day, Ray and I visited his friends Halle, Maddie, Casey, and the two Bichons next door, Missy and Willoughby, and gave them presents of homemade dog biscuits. The previous day, Halle had come by to drop off a present for Ray (scarves, biscuits and a really cool flashlight/whistle/flasher thingy for his mom). He was so excited that his girlfriend was at the door that he barked (!)(Ray NEVER barks (ok - almost never)) and practically scratched down the storm door. It is absolutely pathetic how Ray abases himself for Halle. Ray also received a Babble Ball from Maddie. It's a ball that says something every time he picks it up or moves it. Ray was fascinated until it sang Hallelujah from the Hallelujah Chorus (just the one word). Then he dropped the ball, deployed his ears in dumbo the elephant mode and backed away a couple of steps. (He does the exact same thing every time he picks up the ball - it gets to the Hallelujah part and Ray gets freaked out and backs away.)
We had visitors for cocktails and appetizers and Ray just could not contain himself. The excitement of visitors AND the smell of Lil'Smokies was just too much for him. After trying to sit on the couch for half an hour and hold a conversation where every other word was "Bah" and jumping up every two seconds to grab Ray's collar or nudge him away from the food, I had a lightbulb go off over my head. We still had a frozen marrow bone in the freezer. The marrow bone was offered to the hound who accepted it and retreated to have a nice chew next to the Christmas tree. Peace descended and to quote from Silent Night, "All was calm, All was bright..."

I hope everyone had a great Christmas (or other holiday). Please feel free to leave comments when you have them - it keeps me motivated to write when I see that someone is actually following
Ray the Blind Dog.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I used to believe...
  • ...that there is nothing more peaceful-looking in this world than a cat sleeping but I have discovered that dogs are incredibly peaceful-looking too. In the case of Ray, they are also more mournful. I've never heard so many deep sighs and old-man groans than when Ray is curled up in bed. 
  • ...that cats are better than dogs because they can purr. Cats make you feel special by curling up in your lap and purring and purring. Dogs do this by putting their heart and soul into their eyes (even blind dogs). They look at you like you are the only person on the planet that matters to them (of course they do this to anyone with food in their hands but that is beside the point).
  • ...that cats are smarter than dogs. (actually I still believe this, I've just modified my thinking a bit. And of course some cats and dogs are smarter than others). What I've really discovered is how different their intelligence is. Cats are adult smart. You can see their brains working all the time figuring things out, looking at the pros and cons of everything then making a decision (not always the smart one though). Dogs are kid smart. They do stuff they have to to get what they want (If I sit, I will get a treat. If I learn how to open this gate to the upstairs, I can rummage through trash cans and maybe get food from the cat room). But the thing that makes me question a dog's intelligence more than anything is the fact that they eat cat shit and christmas ornaments and pretty much anything else.
  • ...that there was nothing funnier than a cat at play. But watching Ray try to kill a pair of underwear really cracks me up.
  • ...that I would always have cats and never have a dog. But we all know how that turned out...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

So, how does a blind dog know which are his Christmas presents?
Today while Gregg was at work, I decided to take the Christmas presents downstairs to the dining room and do some wrapping on the dining room table. I grabbed some bags out of my closet and headed down the stairs trailed by my hound dog. Ray immediately started grabbing for one of the bags trying to rip it out of my hands. I shooed him off, deposited my load on the table and went off in search of accoutrements. Ray remained behind in the dining room (should've tipped me off). By the time I returned Ray had one of the bags on the floor and was rummaging around in it. I grabbed the bag from him but not before he had extracted a bone-shaped rubber toy. He took off down the hall towards his favorite keepaway route around the coffee table in the living room. We had a lively game for a few minutes before I was able to retrieve his now-slobbery present. I wrapped presents while Ray circled the table, every few minutes putting his front legs on the table and trying to relocate the bag with his gift, and every time getting a stern "Bah" for his trouble (at least the reprimand is finally seasonable).He's After the Bag of Squeaky Tennis Balls
I finished wrapping all the presents (except for the slobbery bone - it needed to air dry) then headed out to the mail stash to open one of the boxes that had arrived from my sister Kathy. I wanted to put the presents under the Christmas tree. The box contained presents for everyone, me, Hugo, Moonie and Ray (Gregg's gift was in a separate package). I deposited the presents under the tree and went to dispose of the box. I came back into the hallway where we had set up the tree to admire it now that it had presents under it (we set the tree up in the hallway so that we didn't have to rearrange furniture - we didn't want Ray to have to learn a new layout - although, honestly, I don't think it would be a problem for him. He's so ADAPTABLE). Ray was nosing around the base of the tree. He stretched his neck out under the tree and very carefully picked up a gift. He maneuvered it out without disturbing any ornaments then stood with the wrapped present in his mouth, his tail wagging. I went to check the tag. It was for him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy HoliRays

Take me to Your Leader

Well, it's the holiday season and boy have we been busy. I was keeping a list of all of things that I wanted to blog about, but in the mayhem have lost it.

Ray has been a big help this season. He helped us pick out a Christmas tree (we figured that if he didn't stop to sniff it, he wouldn't feel compelled to mark it every day). He helped with the holiday cleaning by eating a couple rolls of toilet paper (I think his idea of "help" in this area might be a little different than mine).
Ray vs. Toilet Paper

He helped entertain Mom, Dad, John, Yuko and Hannah while they
were here for 4 or 5 days and even shared his bed, (Yuko, who was having an allergy attack, took a Benadryl, curled up in Ray's bed (while he was sleeping in it) and took a nap with him).
Ray Taking His Guests on a Tour Around the Backyard He helped with the tree trimming by staying out of everyone's way, then decided that maybe we had too many ornaments and crunched up a couple of the glass balls. (I told everyone to hang the glass high - but obviously his reach is higher than they thought. The second one cut his tongue so he hasn't touched one since.) He is such a good dog
Ray trying to Go Home with Hannah
Everyone Glad to be Leaving Before the BIG SNOW
Amazingly, Ray adjusted very quickly to having a tree in the house although his enthusiastic tail wagging tends to sweep whole sections of ornaments off of the tree at once. Also, he has tried to open one of the presents that arrived in the mail, but it WAS addressed to him and the cats, so technically he was within his rights. I explained to him that he had to wait until Christmas like everyone else.
Also, in the spirit of the season, we had a major snowstorm this weekend and Ray got to experience lots and lots of SNOW. To my complete surprise, Ray turned out to be quite the snow bunny. He LOVED the snow.
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Is Anyone DOWN There?

For about 15 minutes. Now that the novelty has worn off, Ray is bored.
Will it Never END?
Has Anyone Seen the Cars?
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Headway

I was working outside raking leaves and grinding them up in the chipper/shredder. The noise is horrendous so Ray was staying inside.
After about 10 minutes of work, I checked on him just to make sure he wasn't getting into anything. Ray was in the front hallway, peacefully chewing a rawhide strip. I returned to work.
After another 10 or 15 minutes, I checked on him again. Ray was on a chair in the living room, curled up, looking peaceful.
After another 15 or 20 minutes, I checked on him again. Ray was curled up in bed, looking wide awake, but peaceful.
After another 20 or 30 minutes, I checked on him again. Ray was nowhere to be seen. The gate to the upstairs was open. I dropped my rake and ran upstairs. Ray was just coming out of the cats' room. All the dishes were empty but the bags of food were safe in a metal box (which is where they've been ever since he ate the bag of cat food last time). Moonie was in her tent completely oblivious. Hugo was in bed watching interestedly as I dragged Ray out of the room, refilled the cat dishes and put the lock on the cat room door. I took Ray downstairs, closed the gate and went back outside.
After another 10 minutes, I checked on him again. Ray was once again nowhere to be seen. The gate to the upstairs was open. I called "Ray. RAY. RAY!," then dropped my rake and walked to the stairs. Ray was standing at the top of the stairs "looking" down at me. He had a bit of drool hanging from his mouth. The hook and eye was still in place on the cat room door - holding it ajar just enough to let the cats in. There was a small puddle - right about where Ray's head is usually jammed through the crack - where he pushes and pushes but makes no headway against the hook and eye. Coulda been dog drool but I couldn't prove it.
I went back outside to work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ray Makes New Friends

It was supposed to rain in the afternoon so I took Ray to the dogpark early. The rain started shortly after we got home. I spent the day cleaning and Ray spent the day following me from room to room looking bored. If I spent more than 15 minutes in one place he would curl up on the closest piece of furniture and take a nap.
By 3:00 he was looking for something to get into and I needed to go to the grocery store. I bundled him into the car with the thought that I would pick up what I needed then take him to my old Karate school to visit. They have an after-school program for kids 5 years and older, and I thought Ray might enjoy meeting someone new.
I picked up my groceries then hooked Ray to his leash to walk by the school. It was closed. I figured Mr. Jason was out picking up the kids so I walked Ray to the end of the strip mall and back. Ray was excited. He loves to shop (he was window shopping) and he loves the smell of McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse, and the Chinese and Greek restaurants.
By the time we got back to the school, Mr. Jason was walking across the parking lot followed by 15 or so kids. When they saw Ray coming up the walk, they all started oohing and ahhhhing. One little girl said "Can we pet your dog?" "Sure," I replied.
The word was barely out of my mouth when all 15 kids swarmed Ray, petting and hugging him. Ray didn't have time to jump. He couldn't move except to try to lick everyone's face and hands at once. He tried to flop on his back to get a belly rub but there were so many kids around that he couldn't maneuver enough to do that. He stood and wagged his tail and gave out kisses to all who wanted them. I tried to make sure that he didn't grab anyone's wrist (he only tried a couple of times) and that he didn't jump up and bop anyone in the face. Ray was in heaven.
Mr. Jason let us into the school with the kids. I handed some treats to the little girls who were fawning all over Ray and told them to tell him to flop. Ray flopped. The little girls were charmed and wanted more treats to feed to Ray. He was doing his one trick over and over (good practice for him). I told Mr. Jason that we'd have to come more often. He told us to come anytime. We stayed for about 15 minutes, then I dragged my unwilling dog away from his newfound friends and went home.