Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good News and an Impromptu Party

Yesterday, we got a piece of good news: Gregg's PET scan came back clean.
So in order to celebrate, I ran around to all the neighbors that have supported us though Gregg's ordeal and invited them over for a glass of champagne at 5:00. Ray followed me mopily around the house as I did a quick houseclean then when bedtime (about 4:30) rolled around, went to his usual spot on the couch to go to sleep.
But his pillow wasn't there (it was in the wash), and his blanket wasn't there (I had folded up the throws and stashed them out of sight). He stood at the edge of the couch, his head down in sad-dog mode, uncertain what to do. I wanted him asleep so I spread his blanket in it's usual place. Ray immediately crawled up, curled up, and went to bed. As soon as Ray went down, Gregg started putting out food; a cheese board, crackers, nuts, carrots, etc.
At 5:00 sharp, Marva arrived followed immediately by Halle's grandparents, Deborah and Steven. Ray got up off his couch to greet them. I was taking coats when I heard Steven say the dreaded words,
"Um, should Ray be doing that?"
I turned to look. Something was missing off of the cheese board. Ray was headed into the kitchen with a prized mozzarella/prosciutto/basil roll clenched in his teeth. I swiftly grabbed his collar, removed the roll from his mouth, handed it to an outraged Gregg (who quickly took it to the sink and rinsed it off) and clipped a leash onto the dog. Amid much laughter, and "you shoulda seen what Ray did"s, more neighbors arrived.
Steven asked, "So what was it?"
We described the cheese roll.
"Oh, go ahead and put it on out," he said, "It's just a little dog spit." (He is my kind of people). I thought about it briefly but dismissed the idea when I saw the look of horror on Marva's face.
The small party went swimmingly.
After all the guests had left (and after Ray spent quite some time trying to intimidate Steven out of his spot on the couch - "I'm not giving you my spot, Ray. I have dogs, I know the move.") I found Gregg in the kitchen with the mozzarella roll, carefully cutting away the cheese marred by tooth marks.
"Waste not, want not," he said with a grin.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays to all of Ray's loyal followers.
from Ray, Gregg, Jean, Moonie, and Hugo

Christmas Eve exploring.
Ray and Gregg

Ray and Jean

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hear those lonely hound dog blues...

It was about 6 a.m.
Ray was in my studio trying to get into the closet again. I had finally caved-in and given him one of his Christmas presents, the shrink-wrapped rib bone, just to keep him out of my room. But now, of course, he thinks that the closet is the Pez dispenser of rib bones. I could hear him give a brief whine then wander down the hall to our bedroom.
SCRATCH; he wanted in.
"Go to bed Ray," said Gregg.
Ray gave a deep sigh. No bone and not allowed to sleep with us. I heard him sadly walk to the futon outside our room where he settled himself in.
Life is so hard for the poor, lonely, blind dog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Demerit, Demerit, Demerit, Demerit

1. Eating the Christmas ornaments on the lower half of the tree
2. Opening one of the Christmas presents that was meant for ME (from my sister, Kathy)
3. Trying to open one of the Christmas presents tagged for Gregg (it was too flat for him to get a good grip on)
4. Annoying the crap out of me by coming into my studio 10 times a day to BAMBAMBAM the closet door to get at his presents.

On the plus side, Ray made a crying baby smile by licking the bottom of the baby's feet...

I think that cancels out at least three of the above four demerits (he's really going to have to work to cancel out opening one of my Christmas presents)
Well, how was I supposed to know it was an ornament? I AM blind y'know.

Monday, December 19, 2011

So, What's On?

We had just finished dinner. I was sitting on the couch bookended by my cats.
"Where's Ray?" asked my lovely husband, Gregg.
"He upstairs watching Pitbulls and Parolees," I replied.
We had installed a TV in our bedroom the week before. I had given Ray a bath and the damp dog was up on our bed, cozily ensconced under his woolie blanket, drying. The last time I had passed the bedroom, Pitbulls and Parolees was on the TV.
"I think we should block pay-per-view," said Gregg. "I don't want him ordering Dogs Gone Wild when we're not home."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just Wait

Ray has found the closet where I stash the Christmas presents.
On more than one occasion, I have found him wandering down the upstairs hallway with one of the new stuffed toys dangling out of his mouth. But ever since I bought him a rib bone shrink-wrapped in plastic, I have had to make sure to monitor the closet very closely. I never realized how much I was in and out of my (studio) closet until I had to make sure that the door was closed every single time. I've made many mistakes and each time have had to chase the dog down the hall or down the stairs with the bone in his mouth. I tried putting the bone on a shelf instead of in a bag on the floor but, as usual, Ray's reach surprised me. And every time I take a present away from him, I tell him the same thing, "Ray, you're just going to have to wait until Christmas like everyone else."
Now, sometimes when I pass the room with the closet, I'll see Ray standing in front of it, his head down, his forehead resting on the door. Waiting.
Only ten more days. (sigh)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Puppie Pix

The Basset Hound puppy was back at the park yesterday. I wish I could have gotten a photo of his amazing ears while they were "at rest" but he moves too much.

Memphis at rest

Friday, December 9, 2011


It was a little after 7:30 in the morning. I was on the phone with my BFF discussing where and when we would meet for lunch. The part of my brain that listens for unusual noises heard one. I turned to look and saw my dog at the Christmas tree. His back feet were firmly planted, his neck outstretched. Between his jaws was a string of Christmas lights. He was pulling with all his might trying to get them off of the tree. I gave an outraged howl and pried his teeth from the string, silently thanking the powers that be that the lights weren't plugged in. Ray's teeth had flattened one of the light sockets and the little glass bulb had been ejected and was laying on the carpet.
The entire string of 100 lights was ruined.
Santa was not happy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

That's a Wrap!

I gathered my wrapping materials and headed downstairs. I placed everything on the floor, went to get the packing tape and shipping boxes and returned to do some Christmas wrapping. I cut an appropriate-sized piece of festive wrap and then watched as my roll of paper was carried away. I retrieved my paper, reached for a roll of glittified ribbon, unrolled a nice, long piece, put the roll aside, then watched the ribbon was carried away. I retrieved my roll and decorated the package with the length of ribbon.
I finished wrapping. There was glitter everywhere, including Ray's snout, feet, and back. He takes decorating for Christmas to a whole new level.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Morning Bliss

I realize I post a lot of photos of Ray sleeping, but truthfully he does move around quite a bit during the day. Here he is taking a Sunday morning nap previous to his Sunday morning walk (which takes place AFTER my second cup of coffee.) He was shivering, so I threw the blanket, that I use to keep dog hair off of the couch, on top of him. He wasn't laying on it anyway (sigh, why do I even bother). AND, YES, I DO KNOW MY DOG IS SPOILED, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
Ray's thought bubble, "I love Sundays."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas is Coming

Nothing is happening. Ray is trying to be on his best behavior because Christmas is coming.
I'm sure the following acts have been scribbled in Santa's notebook.

On the Good side:
  • We got caught in a downpour while walking around a different lake than our usual, and at the end of the walk, while I dried Ray off with multiple towels, he tried to lick my fleecey sweatshirt dry with his tongue. (Santa likes helpful dogs)
  • While we were walking around the block, Ray found a big, half-empty bag of Candy Corn, picked it up in his teeth and carried it awhile then dropped it in front of someone else's house. (Santa likes dogs that share)
  • Ray took a shine to a Basset Hound puppy at the dog park. The little dog's ears were so long that he kept tripping over them and had so much extra skin that he could have fit a dog of Ray's size into it. (Santa likes kind dogs)
    Ray with his friend the Basset puppy and the Basset's sister puppy, a Labrador Retriever
On the demerit side:
  • Ray continues his fascination with shoes
  • Ray starts whining at 2:00 o'clock for his afternoon walk. (The time change and the early darkness has really screwed up his schedule)
  • Ray has been caught multiple times with his nose in my morning coffee
Good or Bad (depends on the interpretation):
  • Ray continues his efforts to 'woo' Hugo. Hugo considers this a bad thing. Ray's interpretation is slightly different

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friendship-Building 101

Another day, another attempt to win over the cats.
Ray followed me into the cat room. His tail started to wag the minute he realized that Moonie was on the edge of the bed. He gave her a friendly little shove with his snout. Moonie retreated with a look of outrage on her face but didn't panic (too much) because, as usual, Ray had moved on to the cat food.
So, since Ray has decided that Moonie is now his good friend, he is focusing all his efforts on Hugo. Every time Hugo comes downstairs, Ray feels obligated to get up from wherever he is soundly sleeping and rush frantically to meet the black cat. Strangely enough, this tactic is not working. Even stranger still, it seems to be having the opposite effect.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We had another breakthrough the other day. Moonie intentionally touched Ray's nose with her nose.
Moonie was crouched close to the edge of the bed when I went into the cat room to feed the cats. As usual Ray was following me and as usual, he went right up to the bed and stood, ears fully deployed in Dumbo mode. Moonie was inches from his nose. She crouched motionless for a moment then stretched her neck way out, touched Ray's nose with hers for a nanosecond, and then retracted her neck. I watched Ray to see if he would try to grab her, or jump up on the bed after her, or do any of the things that he usually does, but he just stood still, with a surprised look on his face, and did nothing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where O where has my little lamb gone...

Yesterday while I was out and about, I bought Ray a new bag of rawhide. I buy them by the mixed 10 pack; flips, rolls, small knotted bones, a pretzel, and a doughnut. Ray doesn't chew them anymore, but they are one of his favorite toys because he likes to bury them.
I knew it was time to get a new bag when I saw him headed outside with his Lamby. He had a certain focused look on his face, the one he gets when he's going to bury a bone and I had an inkling that, since we were out of rawhides, Lamby was in for it. Sure enough, Ray found a nice place to park Lamby for all eternity and came back inside with the tale-tale spot of dirt on his nose.
He got me up in the middle of night to check on Lamby, she was still in her cosy resting place, but the next morning, Lamby had been disentombed (probably the fox - I think he comes here in the middle of the night just to play with Ray's toys.) Ray picked Lamby up and shook her violently a couple of times, (like he does when he unburies a rawhide) flung all the extraneous clumps of dirt off of her, and carried her away.
So yesterday, I bought a new bag of rawhide. I opened it up when I got home and gave Ray a flip (a flat chip). He immediately started a game of keepaway around the coffee table, but it wasn't long before he headed outside to bury his new prize. Unfortunately for Ray, it was raining, cold, windy, and getting dark out so it was only a matter of moments before Ray was back inside the nice cozy house and enthusiastically digging a hole for his rawhide in the couch. He gently placed the flip behind the cushions, nosed the throw over the hidey hole, then went to sleep on top of it.
Problem solved. Nothing was going to going to get to this one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Choose One: A, B, or C

Every single day my dog does things that;
A. Make me laugh
B. Drive me to distraction
C. Move me
I find it a conundrum that he can do each one of these things every single day.
Usually, in the 'make me laugh' category, Ray will do something funny with his toys. It can be as simple as picking one up in his mouth and giving me a look of expectancy. An "I know you want to play with this but you can't have it" look. This usually results in a game of keepaway.
The 'drive me to distraction' category usually involves incessant whining (for no apparent reason) or my shoes, or Gregg's shoes, or nicknacks, or paper, or anything else that Ray can fit in his mouth.
The 'move me' category is a bit trickier and more unpredictable. I find myself unexpectedly moved at simple things. Like the other day, when I had just come home from running errands and was squating in the front hall petting Ray. My back was against the wall. Ray's head was down and pressed into my chest. I couldn't move. I laid my face on the back of his neck and he pressed against me harder. It was funny and moving at the same time. A two-fer. It's things like this that make the 'drive me to distraction' category insignificant. Until, of course, he starts whining or eating my shoes, or Gregg's shoes, or nicknacks, or paper, or anything else he can fit in his mouth.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Can Cats Read?

The answer to this question will solve a little mystery.
The other day I was working in the cat room where I keep a trunk of fabric. I opened the trunk, removed the top tray which holds a pillow, some large fabric pieces, and a pattern that I made and upon which I had neatly printed "DOG COAT." I left the tray on the floor and rummaged through the trunk, leaving bits and pieces of fabric scattered throughout the room.
The cat room remained like this for several days. When I returned to finally finish the project, I noticed that the "DOG COAT" pattern had been peed on. Nothing else had been thus defiled. Not the stacks of fabric, not the pillow, not the fluffy piles of fabric scraps scattered about, just this one thing.
SO, since Ray does not have access to the cat room, and Gregg tends to use the bathroom when he pees, this leaves only two viable suspects in the case. Hugo, who hates dogs with a white-hot passion, and Moonie, who has gotten a bit loopy in her old age.
IF the answer to the title question is "No, of course cats can't read," then I have to consider Moonie as the main suspect in this case.
IF the answer to the title question is "Yes, of COURSE cats can read," (which I have always suspected) then I have to look at Hugo as perpetrator of the abominable act. I'll even go so far as to say he was probably smiling while he did it.

(Be sure to look again at the "Relaxed Dog" posting. I added a photo sent to me by Ray's foster mom, Amber, of her own pillow hog - I mean, pillow dog. If anyone else sends a photo of their pillow pet, I'll be glad to add them to the posting. j)

A day in the life

"I'm going to bed," said Gregg. He got out of his chair and headed for the kitchen. Ray - - who had been in bed since four o'clock - - got out of his bed, stretched, and headed to the kitchen also.
I was comfily stretched out on the recliner with Hugo curled up between my knees. He growled at Ray as the dog went by but didn't give up his prized position. I was thrilled.
"I'll take Ray out," said Gregg, getting Ray's leash off of its hook.
"Thanks," I replied.
Ray was exhausted from his hard day working in the yard. I had been redesigning one of the beds out back. It had gone to the dogs in the past couple of years so I was digging out flowers that had seeded beyond my wildest expectations, pulling out masses of thyme, moving some bulbs and planting others. Ray was with me every step of the way; one minute relaxing in a pile of leaf mulch, the next digging holes in various places where he thought I should plant bones. There was even time for a jail break.
(I had headed out front to relocate some of the thyme and hadn't fully latched the gate. When I returned to the backyard, the gate was suspiciously ajar. I quickly ascertained that the dog, which had been peacefully sleeping in his leaf mulch bed, was no longer there. [-HOW DOES HE KNOW-] I ran to the front and called out a few times, "RAY, RAY."
No dog.
I ran to the kitchen where Gregg was standing.
"Did Ray come in?" I inquired anxiously. "No," replied Gregg.
I ran back out front, yelling, "RAY, RAY."
Sergio came out of his house across the street and pointed to William's house next door.
"I saw Ray go that way," he yelled to me.
"Thanks," I called back as I headed over to William's.
Ray was headed off of the front porch, a big grin on his doggy face, his usual expression when he gets away with something. I gathered my dog and returned to gardening).
So getting back to later that night, Gregg took Ray out to pee, came back inside, turned the dog loose, and went to bed.
Ray started to head back to bed also but when he got alongside my recliner, Hugo growled and hissed. Ray's head shot up, his ears deployed in dumbo mode. Hugo nervously held his ground for a brief moment then retreated behind the couch. I grabbed Ray's collar and held him while Hugo ran for the stairs. Ray interestedly sniffed the afghan covering my lap, decided that this was the place to be, and hopped his front legs onto the footrest of the recliner which was still outstretched. I watched interestedly to see how the blind dog was going to navigate this particular minefield.
Ray managed to get all four feet on the chair, most of them on some part of my body. He stood uncomfortably for a moment, thinking, then turned his backside to me and perilously sat it on the arm of the chair, closest to my head. He awkwardly stretched his body out and laid his head on my ankles, the rest of his 68 pounds squashing the rest of me into the chair. He let go a deep sigh and fell instantly asleep. I stayed squashed until the end of my TV show, then lowered the footrest, extricated my body from beneath the dog, and went to bed. Ray readjusted himself to get more comfortable but stayed put.
This morning Gregg walked past the chair, took one look, and headed for the vacuum cleaner.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Uh oh

Last night I forgot to close the dog door. At 5:20 this morning something roused me from my sleep. I didn't at first know what it was. When I realized what it was, I jumped out of bed, scrambled into some clothes and shoes and ran for the stairs. I fumbled for the flashlight, shot open the deadbolt on the door, and raced outside just as my trumpeter-of-the-dawn was heading back to the house. I had a brief moment of panic when I saw him turn in my direction and his ears and tail go up. I thought he was going to announce my presence to the neighborhood as well but he just trotted on over with a triumphant little jig in his step as if he knew he'd pulled a fast one. I grabbed his collar and we finished the jog together.
At the last second, Ray reached down and, without breaking stride, snatched from the ground a sheep toy that he had abandoned outside the day before. (I found myself wondering for the millionth and a half time; HOW does he know it's there?) He dropped the sheep on the kitchen floor and headed back to bed.
Hmmm, this looks vaguely familiar

Oh, yeah

So to all of my neighbors who awoke to the sound of a hound baying in the dark, I apologize. I will try to do better in the future and remember to close the dog door before I retire at night. But if it happens again and you feel the need for a little retribution, just come knock on my door in the middle of the night. I'll understand.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It was interesting on Halloween how many kids and parents knew Ray. One little boy standing on the stoop very seriously said to another, "Ray is my best friend." I have no idea who they were since they were in costume, but Ray knew. He got up off of his chair to come greet them. I also heard one of the parents standing out on the sidewalk yell to her kids, "Hey, Ray lives here!"
One of my "neighbors" (who lives down the street and around the corner) was following her two kids around and brought her baby boy up to see Ray. "I just had to bring him to see Ray," she told me, grinning, the placid little guy balanced on her knee as she crouched outside the door. Ray strenuously tried to climb through the opening and managed to get in a few licks (we removed the glass in the storm door to make it easier to hand out candy) before they continued on. My neighbor will sometimes let Ray lick the baby's feet or hands when we see them on our walks around the block, and as I've mentioned before, Ray remembers things like this. He LOVES baby boys and, in particular, this baby boy.
So, despite the costume that Ray had to wear for 10 minutes, he had a very good Halloween. He got to see his best friend and lick his favorite baby. A very good day indeed.

Bess, Beverly, and Blanche

Remember Bess and Beverly, the vision-impaired Cocker Spaniels adopted by a co-worker of my sister, Kathy? (If not click on the link to see the posting). Well, Cheryl, who adopted Bess and Beverly, was contacted by the rescue society when Blanche, a sibling of Bess and Beverly needed a foster home while her owner recovers from a medical problem.
For those of you who have been wondering about Bess and Beverly (I know I'm always asking my sister about them), here's an update from Cheryl about the dogs.

Bess, Beverly and Blanche are sisters that were rescued from a puppy-mill in Kansas in Oct 2009. Blanche was adopted soon after because she had no health issues at the time. My husband and I adopted Bess and Beverly in April 2010. Since they both have health issues; cataracts for both, glaucoma and blindness in one eye for Bess, and occasional seizures for Beverly, they were harder to adopt. We got them and have loved every day with them!

A couple of weeks ago the rescue contacted to us regarding Blanche. Her owner had suffered a stroke and the rescue had agreed to foster Blanche. They were having a hard time finding someone to foster Blanche because she now has health issues – cataracts, partial blindness and an occasional seizures. No problem for us! We have had Blanche now for a week and have come to love her as much as our other two. More than likely we will end up being her forever home also!

The reason they are posted here; their adoption was inspired by Ray the Blind Dog.
Cheryl is my hero.

Bess, Blanche, and Beverly

The Visual Definition of the Word "Dogpile"


I Feel like Lamb for Dinner

I have to say, that I have always been appalled at people who dress their dogs (and cats) in humiliating costumes. So it really pains me to admit that I have become such a person. I can't help myself. The minute the air starts to get a little cooler, my thoughts turn to Halloween and what I can do to my wonderfully-passive, 4-legged mannequin, Ray.
He is such a good dog. He will stand stock still while I fit and pin and mark whatever fabric I'm using to make him into whatever alter ego I have chosen for the year, and will goodnaturedly wear it to the neighbors to show off.
But this year, even I have to admit that maybe I went a little too far. Turning Ray into a...
Well, see for yourself.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Miracle!

Last evening while I was making rumbledethumps for dinner, Moonie came down to join me in the kitchen. Lately, for some reason, both of the cats have been coming out more in the evening. Hugo was sitting at the foot of the stairs, Moonie was sitting in front of Ray's water dish getting ready to take a drink. Ray was 'asleep' on the couch in the adjoining living room.
I heard the faint jingle of dog tags and looked up to see Ray stealthily get down off of the couch and head towards Moonie who was sitting with her back to him, oblivious to his movement. Ray tiptoed toward the cat, his head down, ears deployed in full dumbo mode. I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to make any sudden movement which would alarm Moonie and set her racing for the stairs. I stayed still, ready to spring into action if need be.
Ray slowly walked up to Moonie, nudged her with his nose, then pulled his head back and waited for her reaction (which is usually an instantaneous and dramatic flight). Startled, Moonie turned to see the dog at her side, his head easily as big as her entire self, then took a slow step away and casually trotted to the foot of the stairs. Hugo ran from the bottom of the stairs up to the landing then stopped there and waited to see what would happen.
"Go to bed, Ray," I said.
Ray moseyed on over to his bed and curled up.
I celebrated the minor victory for about half an hour until Ray ruined his good-dogginess by getting out of bed every ten minutes or so to search for the cats while we ate dinner. They're on to him though. They laid low, watching him from the couch until he settled down.

It's All About the Eyes

Today was Ray's annual eye appointment. I wasn't really expecting any changes but one can't take anything for granted with a blind dog.
The doctor walked into the office, looked at Ray and smiled.
"He looks like he's looking right at you," she said, "It's pretty amazing. But dogs compensate so well with their sense of smell."
"Well, I know he can see something out of his right eye," I replied, "But not anything low. He trips over stuff all the time."
"That's because the retina in that eye is flopped over," said the doctor. "So the top part is folded over the bottom part."
She peered into Ray's right eye with her scope. Ray lay passively flopped out on the floor.
"He's still light sensitive," she said flashing the light into his eye, "Look at how his pupil dilates."
"I know you can see something," she said to Ray, "But I really don't know how. But I guess I don't have to know, do I Ray? As long as you know."
The doctor stood up and turned toward me, "Can I have his eyes when he dies? How old is he?" she turned to check his file.
"He's three," I replied, slightly stunned. I wasn't sure how I felt about someone taking Ray's eyes when he died.
"Oh," she said, "Then it won't be for a long time."
"Well, if he runs into the rock at the dog park again it might be sooner than you think," I replied.
The doctor was checking Ray's eye pressure. "The pressure is up in his left eye. It's over 30. It should be in the teens. I'll prescribe some drops. You'll need to give them to him once a day. If you notice him rubbing his eye or if it's weepy you should up it to twice a day. I think he's probably a pretty tough dog so don't wait to see me to get the OK, just do it, and come in when you can to get him rechecked. But definitely come back in 3 - 4 months. He's getting a cataract in that eye, so it might turn totally white."
Ray was stretched out on the floor. Still totally relaxed. The only thing moving were his eyebrows.
"Ray, you are such a good dog. Do you want a treat?" asked the doctor.
At the word treat, Ray's head lifted from the floor. The doctor wedged a little dog biscuit between Ray's teeth. Ray just lay there with it sticking out of the corner of his mouth. I laughed. I knew what was coming next.
Without moving his head, Ray let the vile thing drop from his jaws and onto the linoleum. The doctor shook her head and smiled
I paid my bill, collected Ray's drops, and left.
On the drive home, all I could think about was donating Ray's eyes to science. I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I'm still not.

Friday, October 14, 2011


The football team of our local high school, which is about half a mile from our house, has been in a slump. Last night they scored a touchdown (and won the game). I know this because when Ray ran out of the house and to the fence, yelling, I followed him outside and could hear the crowd cheering and the announcer call "TOUCHDOWN!" The band was playing. Ray was dancing along the fence, going crazy along with the crowd.
I retrieved my hound, brought him inside, locked the dog door so that Ray couldn't get back out, and went upstairs to brush my teeth.
Ray stayed downstairs and yelled. And yelled. And yelled. He came upstairs to yell some more.
I finished brushing my teeth and washed my face. Ray was still yelling.
My dog always surprises me. I had absolutely NO idea that he was such a football fan.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


It was 6:30 in the morning, dark, and raining. Ray the Blind Dog scratched on the bedroom door signaling his desire to go out and pee. I crawled out of bed, gently retrieved my sandals, and quietly exited the room so as not to wake my lovely husband.
I fumbled around with the umbrella, flashlight, and dog leash. (It is inadvisable to let Ray out unattended first thing in the morning. He likes to trumpet the dawn.) We exited and Ray quickly identified the correct place to pee. Usually, this a pretty involved process but since he really doesn't like being rained on first thing in the morning, his brain-box was firing on all cylinders.
We returned to the kitchen, I toweled off Ray's feet, gave the rest of him a quick rubdown, and turned him lose. He meandered off to bed. After a few minutes, I followed him and laid down on one section of the L-shaped couch for a few more minutes of sleep. I could hear Ray licking himself dry. He was busy for a good ten minutes and I thought I was in the clear but the minute he finished, Ray headed over to try to convince me to move my feet so that he could sleep with me. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, it is extreeeeemly difficult to get comfortable with a 68 pound dog sharing a narrow sleeping space, so I pretended to be asleep and didn't move a muscle.
Ray stood his front feet on the edge of the couch and pawed at the afghan covering my legs. I didn't budge. He jumped his feet down and moved over a foot to do the same at my waist. I didn't budge. He jumped his feet down and moved to my head. Ray lay his head down on my shoulder, his nose a breath's distance from my cheek. I didn't budge. He gave a little whine then climbed up on the other section of the L. He turned a few circles and was using his nose to shift things around to his liking. I was just congratulating myself on the success of my strategy when a pillow landed on my face, then another one on my head. Ray climbed back down off his section of the couch, went back to my feet, and pawed at the afghan again.
Point taken, I shifted enough to let the dog climb up.
He's snoring at my feet. I can't sleep. I'm blogging.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Remember when...

When Gregg and I lived in Thailand, we had a cat that we brought with us. The very first time she walked out onto the balcony that was attached to our bedroom, a lizard dropped onto her head. For the next two years, every time she walked out onto the balcony, our cat, Ruhe, would look up the minute she set a paw out that door to see if another lizard was going to hit her in the head. So I know that cats never forget anything.
Ray has shown me that dogs have similar memories. Every time we stop at a random person's house to chat (usually they initiate a conversation about my nice looking dog), Ray remembers the house. And every time we pass the house when we walk that same route, Ray's tail will start to wag when we approach the house and, if no one is outside, he will try to stall when we get there to see if someone will come out. He remembers that there is a nice person that lives in that house, someone who will pet him, or talk to him, or give him a bellyrub. We may have stopped there only once in the two years that Ray has been with us, but Ray remembers. It's amazing, really. Ray has a memory like a cat.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pigpen and Mr. Clean, Together Again

I have concluded that it is just as difficult to train an adult male to leave his bathroom door closed as it is to train a blind hounddog to stay out of a trashcan that contains interesting medical waste.
After spending the last week or two dragging Ray's head out of Gregg's bathroom trashcan and telling him to "STAY OUT OF THE TRASH" (and removing shoes from his mouth), I decided that a new, covered trashcan was in order and that Ray needed serious off-leash exercise with his old friend, Murphy. (The dogpark is too muddy from all the rain.)
I called Rachel. After a brief conversation and some emails it was agreed that on Sunday afternoon, she and Josh would take Marvelous Marva out for lunch, pick up Ray afterwards, and take him home with them. Ray could play with Murphy for a couple of hours while I shopped and ran errands, and then I would drive out to their house to pick him up (it's about an hour away).
All went as planned. Ray was at the door and attempting to dig his way out before his old friends even had a chance to knock. He went off with them, tail wagging wildly, without a backward glance. I went to pick him up three hours later; he and Murphy were still having a good time.
We miss Murphy (and Josh and Rachel). Although not so much the mud she drags around in her hula skirt.
Gonna get ya!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Let's all Swim Home.

We were starting out for a 2+ miler. We had only gotten about a block away when I saw a white blur out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look and saw Lexie following us, a little, mixed-breed, ankle-biter that lives in the house on the corner. Usually she's a yapping ball of fury and literally bites Ray's ankles. He is terrified of her.
I glanced down the block at Lexie's house and saw that the gate was open. I bent down and called to her. Lexie un-agressively trotted up and allowed me to gently scoop her up onto one arm. She was shivering. Ray stood docily at the end of his leash, oblivious that his nemesis was nearby.
We turned back down the street, and walked face-first into the cold wind. Still shivering with her little white ears flapping out behind her from the brisk breeze, Lexie started doing the mid-air dog paddle. She paddled herself all the way home.
Huh, I thought to myself, never seen that before.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Latest Video

I'm a bit late with this, but here is a photo montage of Ray's first two years with us. Thanks to all for following Ray the Blind Dog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bet ya can't sock me!

Ray was being bad. Over an hour at the dog park just wasn't enough to shake the fidgets out of him. He was following me around, whining, then when I obviously wasn't paying attention, he went to the front hall and made a big show out of eating one of my running shoes; tossing it around, pretending (my interpretation) to chew it up. He knows this ALWAYS gets a reaction and was trying to entice me to take him around the block.
I grabbed the shoe out of his mouth and tapped his butt with it. Ray looked surprised. I usually just take the shoe and throw it back on the pile next to the door but he was on my last nerve. Ray laid down in the hall, his eyebrows doing the dance. I resisted as long as I could, then grabbed the leash and around the block we went. He has trained me ever so much better than I have trained him.
Later in the day, I passed him, again in the front hall. This time he was playing with one of my socks. He had it dangling from his mouth, then went down in the dog-play stance, forelegs down, butt up. I just knew he was taunting me, daring me to tap his butt with a sock.
He's not stupid, my dog. He knows I can't do anything with a sock. I laughed and grabbed his leash....

Friday, September 23, 2011


I was shoving scented, fabric-softener dryer sheets in my running shoes. Ray and I had walked around the lake the day before and they had been covered in mud by the time we got home. I rinsed them off with the hose and put them in the laundry room to dry. The mud had been smelly and now my shoes reeked. I was attempting to un-stink them the lazy-man way.
Ray followed me into the laundry room, snatched one of the dryer sheets out of the shoes, waved it up and down a couple of times then dropped it on the floor. I watched as his front legs started to buckle. He was going down for a roll on the sheet. I grabbed Ray's collar and pulled him out of the room.
Later the same day, I was 'working' in my office. I heard Ray rummaging around the linen closet. I walked out of my office just in time to see him heading for the stairs with a still-wrapped bar of soap in his mouth.
I'm starting to think that Ray is trying to tell me something. Maybe this weekend I'll give him a bath.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Walk in the Dark

Tropical Storm Lee stalled over Northern Virginia last week. The hype surrounding Hurricane Irene's arrival a few weeks ago was intense. In contrast, Lee came in practically unannounced and caused an amazing amount of flooding. The only reason I mention it is because our little lake flooded. Bigtime. The same storm that did this (click this for a short video) to our backyard, made the lake a very inhospitable place for Ray and I to take a walk. It wasn't only the volume of water that caused problems, it was the after affects of the flood that caused Ray the most problems.
Ray and I weren't able to walk any of the trail until Monday when the water had finally receded. Because of the mud, we were only able to navigate a short section. The mud line on the trees along that section of the path was my eye level. On Tuesday we walked another section of the trail. The mud line there was higher, just above my head. Thursday we walked the final section, the mud line on the trees was higher than my arm could reach.
Each time we walked, I noticed something unusual. Ray was weaving along the path like a drunk coming home late from a bar. At first I thought maybe it was just that there were so many new smells that he was trying to get to. But then I realized that it could be because everything smelled the same. Everything was covered with a layer of mud; from the leaves on the trees to the grass on the ground and whatever scents Ray uses to navigate his way around the lake probably weren't there. For a dog totally dependent on his nose to see, it was like taking a walk in the dark
It didn't stop him though. Didn't even slow him down. He just got twice as much exercise with all his weaving.
The trail is on the far side of the shrubs (about 10 feet high) that are 'floating' in the lake. Notice the mud-covered benches (one is still wet, the other dry).

The trail, in this photo, is on the far side of the ball field

Friday, September 9, 2011


I couldn't stop laughing.
I had stopped by the vet to get some more betadine spray for Ray's hot spot (which he will NOT leave alone.) I've been loathe to put a satellite dish (Elizabethan collar) on him because I figure, Blind Dog + Satellite Dish = YIKES. The vet tech there recommended an alternative. "It's like an inflatable donut that goes around the dog's neck," he said. "It might work better for Ray."
"That's right," added the receptionist, "One of our customer's gets it for his Basset Hound. His dog is so low to the ground that the Elizabethan collar acted like a bulldozer and was always scooping up dirt. So he got one of the donuts."
So I ran out to PetSmart, picked one up, brought it home, and blew it up. It was now resting snugly around Ray's neck. Ray acted like I'd glued his feet to the floor. I was laughing.
"What?" said Gregg.
I just laughed more and pointed. Gregg extracted himself from the recliner and came to see.
"Abandon ship, Ray. Save yourself." said Gregg to the miserable dog.

Did we hit an iceberg?

I went to get some treats to see if I could convince my dog to move (and to get my phone so that I could take a picture).
Ray moved a few feet to take the treat but still looked miserable. He climbed up on the couch and tried to curl up.
I laughed some more. I couldn't help myself.
Gregg looked at the unhappy hound.
"Don't worry, Ray, it's only a (lifeboat) drill," he said.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dog Swim Photos

Here are a couple of dog swim photos courtesy of Roxy's mom, Brenda, who lives on the street behind us.

You can lead a dog to water, but you can't make him swim.

Well, I don't know, if it's all the same to you, I think I'll just hang out here with the girls.

How deep is the water?

Never too small to swim (Roxy)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Good Day for a Swim

Sunday was the end-of-summer dog-swim at our local pool. I had debated about going since Gregg couldn't get in the water with Ray, and because it had been raining off and on most of the day. But at the last minute, I decided that since Ray always seems to have such a good time at the dog swim, that I, myself, would don a bathing suit and take him. I convinced Gregg to come along and sit on the sidelines and enjoy the show.
We arrived about 10 minutes early and were the first ones there. I was worried that we would be the only ones at the swim because of the weather, but the pool president assured me that he had received "about 9 phone calls in the last few minutes" asking if the swim was still on. The words were no sooner out of his mouth when the dogs with their people started streaming in.
Ray, as always, was excited. I took him around to meet all the dogs as they arrived then waited by the gate for the grand opening. They slipped the chain and lock off of the gate, and Ray dragged me through. Gregg grabbed a chair far enough away from the action to be out of the way of rampaging dogs and milling people but close enough to still enjoy the view.
Ray was quiet until he heard the first splash. Then all hell broke loose.
I think I've mentioned before that Ray has two yells. One is for everyday and announces things of import like, "I'm here! I've just pooped! My family is home! I think someone is having a party! It's morning! It's night! I think a cat just walked through the yard!" and things of that ilk. This yell, if performed inside the house, raises the roof approximately 6 inches.
Ray's other yell, which comes from somewhere deeeeeeeep within, is for things of much, much, much more importance, like "I'm pretty sure a fox is directly on the other side of this fence!" or "I'm pretty sure a raccoon is directly on the other side of this fence!" or "I think I can give this nervous little dog a heart attack if I yell really, really loud!" It is estimated that this yell can raise the roof on the house by 5-6 feet (he has never actually done this one inside).
The minute Ray heard that first splash, he started yelling. Judging by the urgency of the yell, I think it was, "HELP! A raccoon is drowning! HELP! I think a fox is drowning too! HELP!"
From my perspective, pandemonium reigned. (When I was writing this I asked Gregg what people's reactions were to Ray - I was too busy trying to keep Ray under control to notice - and Gregg said 'bemused.' "Amused?" I asked thinking I hadn't heard correctly. "That too," he replied.)
This was Ray's third dog swim. Sandra (my across the street neighbor who was there with Maddie) and I encouraged Ray from within the pool while a bevy of little girls stood alongside Ray and tried to convince him to go in from the side of the pool. After accidently falling in once, Ray decided that he would take a little dip on his own and took the plunge. It was the first time that he has entered the pool of his own free will. I was so proud of my blind hound that I almost cried.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ray's New Girlfriend

Ray has a new girlfriend. Ray's girlfriends never seem to have anything in common. Murphy is fast, rough, and a ball of energy. Halle is tall, leggy, and calm. The rottweiler next door to my parents in SC is dark, exotic, and menacing. The only thing the girls have in common is that they are totally uninterested in Ray. Sasha is the only girl that is totally infatuated with Ray, and he will have nothing to do with her anymore (it's heartbreaking).
This girl is no different. She's a tiny, chubby Chihuahua with bulging eyes and bow legs. The little spitfire hurls insults through the window at us every time we pass Ken's house where she stays during the day while his daughter is away at work. Ray worships her from afar. Every day as we near the house, Ray's tail starts to wag and he pulls at the leash to get closer to Peanut's window. Peanut pops up, shrilly yips out a few epithets and pops back down. Pops up, yips, pops down. Pops up, yips, pops down. Ray is entranced by the sound of her voice.
Yesterday, as we were walking around the block, we met Ken with his old husky, Miko, on one leash and Peanut on another. Ray was thrilled when he realized Miko was there (he loves this old dog). Then went into sheer ecstasy when he found a Peanut. He totally abased himself for the little girl; got down on his belly and tried to lick her face. Peanut turned a walked away. Ray tried crawling a bit to get closer to her but Peanut would have none of him. Ray, being used to this type of treatment from his girls decided just being in her presence was enough. We turned and joined Ken for the rest of our walk.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Braving the Storm

Ray was bored. It had been raining for awhile and he was bored. Luckily, the day before, I had finished work on Ray's latest raincoat. It had occurred to me in the spring that he needed one without a lining for downpours when it's warm. So I cut the bottom off of an old australian duster and turned it into the perfect thing for braving Hurricane Irene.
We went for a walk around the block. By the time we got home, the only thing wet on Ray were his feet and head.
Now, I just need to figure out how to make him a hat...
Please, can I take it off now?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for the Storm

Hurricane Irene was on her way. I headed out back followed by my trusty hound. I thought it might be a good idea, before the storm hit, to fill in the graves along the foundation that extend almost the entire length of the house.
I went to the shed and grabbed a shovel, a tamper, a hoe, and some pruners. I pruned some of the vegetation out of the way, loosened up some of the compacted dirt with the hoe and shoveled it into the first grave with the shovel. I tamped it down as good as I could, then took my shovel, hoe, and pruners and moved on to the next grave. When that was filled, I went back to the first grave to retrieve my tamper and found a hound dog rapidly re-excavating his hole. I yelled, "HEY, GET OUT OF THERE," and grabbed the bad dog's collar and dragged him away.
I picked up my tamper, re-tamped the dirt in the first hole and returned to the second, where I found Ray re-excavating his grave.
With a serious case of deja vu, I yelled, "HEY, GET OUT OF THERE," grabbed the bad dog's collar and dragged him away. I tamped the dirt down and moved on to the third grave.
I kept a wary eye on Ray while working on the third grave. Until I forgot. The sound of dirt clods flying reminded me that there was a gravedigger on the loose. I grabbed his collar, led him to the kitchen and turned my helpful dog over to Gregg. "Could you close the dog door," I asked. I heard it thunk shut as I returned to finish my task.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Save me

I had just reassembled Ray's bed after wash day. I walked back through the front hall where Ray was sprawled out doing his best imitation of a dead dog.
"Oh no," I cried facetiously, "I think my dog is dead."
I bent over Ray, put my hand on his side and said "Are you OK Ray?"
Ray weakly raised his front paw an inch or two to expose a little bit of his belly.
Only a belly rub could save him now.
I scrubbed him up a bit and continued on my way. Ray's front leg slowly repositioned itself and he returned to dead dog mode.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Did I hear Dinner?

For all his being able to trip me up on a walk (tip - do not use a very short leash when walking a blind hound), Ray is not one to get underfoot when he is being fed. Although, in the interests of full disclosure, when I first brought him home Ray would be right by my side when his food would come out of the cupboard. Now, when he hears his food container, Ray goes to a spot in the living room and waits, head cocked, listening.
He starts out a few paces away and listens while I put the crunchies in his bowl. Then he when he hears the top of the can come off, he moves a little closer. I never actually see him move, he is just all of a sudden there. And when his bowl hits the floor, Ray is ready, in place, patiently waiting for his dinner.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Never admit defeat? Why ever not?

I needed to get to work but first I needed to take Ray for a quick walk around the block.
I grabbed his leash off of the hook where it hangs. Usually the noise of the leash being picked off its hook is enough to get Ray moving, but he knew that today he was going to daycare (he can tell the difference between getting ready for work and getting ready to walk around the lake) and was comfily curled up on his favorite chair.
"C'mon Ray let's go for a walk," I said to my hound.
Ray didn't move although those tell-tale eyebrows were doing the dance showing that he had heard me.
"C'mon Ray, don't you want to go for a walk?" I asked.
Ray pretended not to hear.
"Let's go Ray," I said sternly.
Ray buried his nose further into his tail to show me that he was perfectly fine right where he was, thank-you-very-much.
"Ray, come," I said commandingly.
Ray didn't move a muscle.
I gracefully accepted defeat (for the moment) and sat back down with a cup of coffee.
To paraphrase Malcolm Forbes, "Coffee is sweetest when you've known defeat." (Ok, so he was talking about victory, but coffee works very well in this context).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guess What?

Monkey Butt.
That's what the vet called it when she had to shave a hotspot on Ray's rear end.
I've never seen a dog with such single-minded determination to lick himself raw. The vet said that hotspots in dogs are very common this time of year. So she gave him a shot and sent him home with some ointment. Seems to be working a bit already although he is still one miserable dog.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hmmmm. What did she mean by that?

It was hot and steamy. A typical Northern Virginia day. Ray and I were dragging around the lake. A 20 something girl was approaching. As she neared, she got a smile on her face.
"Nice..," she said.
I started to swell with pride as I usually do when someone is complimenting my dog.
"...shorts," she finished.
I deflated a bit but then realized I, myself, had just received a compliment from a YOUNG person.
I spent the rest of the walk wondering if she was being sarcastic.

I really don't want to be seen with her but she's holding the leash.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's that NOISE?

It was Sunday night. I had spent the last two days (off and on) under Greggie's sink and had finally (I think) managed to get it working without any leaks (after replacing every single part but one). I came downstairs. When I entered the kitchen, Greggie humorously started singing "You will alwwways be my heeero" and gave me a hug for fixing his bathroom.
All of a sudden, Ray rushed down the stairs, right through my legs, out the dog door, and into the back yard, howling.
We both started laughing at Ray's extreme reaction to Gregg's rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings (although, truthfully, Gregg's singing does tend to make my ears bleed just a bit and just for the record he was absolutely appalled when he found out that he was singing Wind Beneath my Wings). I opened the back door and yelled "Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad!"
Ray was at the fence, dancing back and forth, yelling. I was laughing. Gregg was laughing. I walked out into the back yard, "C'mon Ray, don't you like your dad's singing?" I asked.
I heard a thump. The guy next door was closing his shed door. Ray was at the fence yelling and yelling (the neighbors are new and Ray is not too sure about them). I had told the man to just talk to Ray to stop him from yelling at him.
"It's just me, Ray," he said helpfully. Ray's tail wagged a bit uncertainly, then he started yelling again.
Gregg came outside, too. "C'mon in Raylin," he said, " 'Top Shot' is on and we can watch it together. You can see all kinds of ways to kill a coon."
Ray snorted in disgust as the coward next door went into his house. He stood at the fence a minute more to make sure the guy wasn't coming back out, then, job done, came inside and headed for his bed.
Gregg and I laughed again. "I'm going to blog," I said. "Make sure that people know I listen to the Cure and the Clash and not Bette Midler," said Gregg.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Apprentice

It turns out that Ray is as good at plumbing as he is at odd-jobs. Today, Gregg's sink was stopped up so he decided that, before he becomes a complete mess, he would try to fix it. This turned out to be a really bad idea as plumbing and feeding tubes do not mix.
While Gregg was able to take the pipes under the sink apart (and clean them out), by the time he ready to put them back together, he couldn't. So while Greggie recuperated from his plumbing, Ray and I took on the sink.
I have to say that plumbing is one of those things that I hate to do. Not so much because it's difficult (even though it is) but because it never goes smoothly, is always in a cramped uncomfortable place, and always takes two or more trips to the hardware store. This time was no exception. But having Ray around made thing so much better.
Every time I came out from under the sink, Ray was right there (with his head in the trash) to support me. When I needed the teflon tape, Ray was ready with it in his mouth (headed down the hall). When I was at my wits end and ready to throw in the towel, Ray was there (inches from my face) with his favorite toy ready to distract me. Ray is such a natural at plumbing that, after today, I was seriously thinking of apprenticing him out.
There's only one problem with that.
Ray doesn't have a butt crack.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Take it. Please. I insist.

Yesterday, Deborah came by with Ray's supermodel girlfriend, Halle. Gregg was sitting on the front porch and I was standing at the front door holding it open. As Halle got even with our house, her ears pricked straight up and she did a little skip. Deborah let go of Halle's leash and Halle scampered up to the door and into the house. Ray, who had been standing at the front door with a bone in his mouth trying to entice me in, turned an excited circle on the floor. His girlfriend had come to see HIM.
Still holding the bone in his mouth, Ray excitedly tried to get Halle to play. He did a little bow and a little jump. Halle ignored him (she doesn't know how to play). Ray bowed again, staying in position with his tail wagging madly. Halle, acting bored, found Ray's food bowl and helped herself to a snack. Ray pranced around in the background with his bone. Halle ignored him.
She went to his toybox where she had found a magical rib bone the last time she had visited, then spied Ray's long, tubular, dried cow-part laying on the rug nearby. She happily picked it up and settled down for a chew.
Ray stood nervously by with his bone in his mouth, listening. Once he was sure that Halle wasn't planning a sneak attack on him, Ray left the supermodel to her Twiggy-sized bone and settled down next to her with his more manly-sized rawhide.
They chewed in companionable silence (except for typical gnawing noises), their tails crossed romantically, while Deborah and I chatted.
It didn't take Halle long to chew the dried cow-part down to a nub. Deborah clipped the leggy greyhound to her leash and got ready to leave.
"You might as well take that with you," I said, pointing to the remaining 3 or 4 inches of the soggy, icky thing.
Deborah gingerly picked up the cow-part and dangled it between thumb and forefinger.
"I'm pretty sure Ray won't miss it," I said, knowing that he would want his special girlfriend to have the rest of it as a parting gift.
And, really, what girl wouldn't be impressed at the selfless act of a hound dog giving up a long, thin, tubular, dried cow-part.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


One thing that I have noticed that Ray and Hugo have in common is the simple pleasure they get out tiny little acts of total autonomy. With Hugo, it's getting to stick his paw in the bag of cat treats and help himself to one (or two). With Ray, it's when we return home from a walk, are only separated from the house by the front yard, and I turn him loose so that he can gallop up to the front door alone. (Granted, Ray does sometimes end up in the shrubbery to the left of the front door, but he self corrects and finds his way.)
Both Hugo and Ray LOVE being able to do these things by themselves without any help from humans. Such small things, and such a fleeting moment of happiness. Something that we wouldn't give a second thought to.
I think it's the complete autonomy of the act that makes them so happy. Of course, in Hugo's case it may be just the fact that he gets to help himself to more food. But in Ray's case? Is it being trusted enough to be turned off-leash for a moment? Is it having a home that he likes going to? Or is it just knowing where the front door is that makes him so happy?