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.