Friday, December 28, 2012


Gregg, Ray, and I had just started a walk around the lake. A woman with two young boys was walking toward us.
"Hi, Ray!" she said.
With wagging tail, Ray jumped up and tried to kiss the woman on the lips, then did a little spin, his usual greeting for his favorite people.
We stopped to chat with the woman. Ray caught a whiff of one of the boys and was straining at his leash to give him a kiss too. I was straining just as hard to not let him.
As we wished our friends "Happy New Year!" and walked on, Gregg turned to look at me with a quizzical look on his face. I knew what he was thinking.
"I have no idea who that was," I said, laughing uncontrollably.
Ray has introduced me to so many people in the last three years. I have so many friends because of him. Some of them I don't even know.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fine Dining.

I was cutting bits of roast beast off of a chunk of meat from one of the two rib bones of our leftover Christmas dinner to give to Moonie. Ray was standing in the middle of the kitchen, waiting to see if he was going to get anything. I hadn't planned on giving him the rib bone, but it looked too good to waste. I turned and held the bone under his nose. Ray gingerly took it in his teeth.
I went back to the task at hand, cutting the bits into even smaller bits for the old cat. The thought crossed my mind that I should see where Ray was going with his greasy bone, so I looked around to check on the dog.
There was a little pool of dog drool right where Ray had been standing. The pool turned into a string of saliva that stretched from the kitchen into the living room. I followed it from there into the front hall where Ray was standing over his bone, a few flecks of meat dotting the carpet around his feet. I couldn't turn the poor dog out into the cold so I went to get one of the spare dog throws. I picked up his bone, flung the old tablecloth on top of the carpet, and dropped the bone back where it had been.
Ray settled in. Twenty minutes later, not a morsel of meat remained on the bone and Ray was upstairs on the bed sleeping off his treat.
Excuse me, waiter, could you suggest a nice red to go with my dinner.
I enjoy dining in an establishment with table linens.
My compliments to the chef. This is truly the best rib bone I've ever had.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Long Day?

"Look," said Gregg.
We were standing in the laundry room, divesting ourselves of wet outerwear after a quick walk around the block with Ray in the sleety, snowy, rain (rainy, snowy, sleet?).
I turned to look. Ray was standing stock-still just outside the gate, a large bath towel draped over his head. It hung to the floor on either side of him.
"He looks like the ghost of Christmas Past," I said laughing.
I led him to the stairs and sat on the bottom-most step as I dried his cold, wet head. The rest of him had remained pleasantly toasty in his sniffing-sweater.
Feeling frisky after his rubdown, Ray headed to the Christmas tree to rummage through the ornaments on the bottom branches of the tree, then into an empty shoebox that had contained a new pair of slippers for the man of the house. Ray had tried to eat the laces off them the previous day, but since they were now safely on the feet of the new owner, Ray settled for ripping the tissue-paper stuffing to shreds in the front hall.
I knew the short walk wasn't going to cut it for the big, blind dog. It was going to be a long day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A New Holiday Tradition

It was yesterday, two days before Christmas, and I was cleaning the house after returning from being away for five and a half days. There was a knock at the door. Ray's girlfriend, Cindy, was dropping off a present and a card for us. Ray stuck his head into the bag from which Cindy had withdrawn the gift, looking to see if she had maybe forgotten his. She hadn't. There wasn't anything. I dragged the dog out of the bag.
"Are you guys going to be around for Christmas?" I asked. "If you are, we should get together."
"Sounds great!" replied Cindy. "But tomorrow someone's coming over, and Christmas day we're going to my parents."
"How 'bout tonight?" I said. "Why don't you and Bill come for cocktails? I'm cleaning the house. I hate to waste a perfectly good, clean house. I'll see if anyone else is available."
Cindy agreed and left. I called around and rounded up our usual suspects for an impromptu cocktail party. Maddie, the Cocker Spaniel's parents (Dick and Sandra) and Halle, the Greyhound's grandparents (Deborah and Steven). Dick and Sandra were bringing their son and his wife as well; a good group for such short notice.
I finished cleaning the house while Gregg went to get a few provisions for the 5:30 party.
By the time 5:30 rolled around, Ray was asleep in his spot on the couch. Although I had cleaned the rooms and removed all the dog throws, I had left his spot untouched, hoping that he would stay comfily ensconced on his bed of pillows. It was a nice thought.
At the first knock on the door, Ray was up to greet his first guests. I was stowing gifts and coats and Gregg was taking drink orders when the second couple arrived. I went to answer the door and saw a distracted Ray in the front hall with his head down, picking at something. It was the mozzarella, basil, prosciutto roll. They were on sale at the supermarket and Gregg just couldn't resist. He'd had it on the counter until the first guests arrived, then quickly plopped it on the coffee table just as the front door opened. Ray was trying to pick off the mozzarella to get at the good stuff.
I grabbed the roll out from under his nose and whisked it to the kitchen to rinse it off. Gregg cut off the half with the teethmarks in it, waited until all the guests arrived and we could keep an eye on it, then set it back out on the table.


It was 2:00 a.m. when something woke me. Before I went to bed I'd pushed together the twin beds in the guest room in an effort to give myself more sleeping space. I'd had to try something or it would end up like every other trip to my folks' house, no sleep because of the bed hog.
The something that woke me was a grunting dog. I felt him moving oddly and a then heard a groan. Another stunted, weird movement, and then a grunt and a groan. And then again.
I got up to turn on the light to see what was going on.
The mattresses had shifted. They were about five inches apart and Ray had fallen into the chasm. He was stuck.
I stifled a laugh and went to pull the poor dog from his predicament. I managed to wrestle his weight from the gap and shift Ray onto the bed that was against the wall. Then I pushed the mattresses together again, leaving five inches of box spring exposed on the outside bed.
I quickly hopped back into my bed before the hog dog could steal my spot. As soon as I lay down, Ray curled up against me, spanning the two mattresses. I felt confident that we could both finish our night's sleep without any further need for middle-of-the-night rescues.

Hey Grandpa, could you buy me a new bed?
That other one is DANGEROUS

Sunday, December 23, 2012


"Be there at 2:20," said my sister-in-law, Yuko. "Hannah gets out at 2:30."
It was 2:00. I hooked Ray to his leash, yelled "I'll be back" to my folks, and ran out the door. Ray and I jogged the half-mile or so to my brother's house then backtracked the half block to school with John and Yuko. A small group of parents were waiting at the back exit for their kids, the ones that walk home. On the other side of the school was a traffic jam of cars waiting to pick up the bulk of the students.
The bell rang. A smallish group of students poured out of the door. At the sound of the kids, Ray, who had been flopped out on the ground, resting after the exertion of the short jog, stood and pointed his nose in their direction. A wave of girls ebbed and flowed around him, stopping briefly in their surge to coo over and pet him as they went by.
Hannah, seeing her favorite dog being fussed over by others, looked a bit crestfallen at her lack of welcome and went to greet her mother. The wave of girls crested and moved on. We turned to walk home.
"Hi, Ray," said Hannah.
Ray, still overwhelmed by all the recent activity, did not react.
"Hannah, put your hand in front of his nose so that he can smell you," I said.
Hannah stopped dead and put her hand, palm open, fingers stretched, right in front of the dog's nose.
Ray who had stood still for all the little girls, instantly came alive. He gave her had a quick lick, hopped up to try to do the same to her face, did a little spin, and then jumped up to try to eat her hair (Ray loves Hannah's hair.) Hannah, smiling now, turned and ducked, and walked happily home next to her favorite dog.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Down, Please

"Can I book a room on the first floor?" I asked the hotel reservationist, "I'm traveling with a blind dog."
There was a pause. 
"I'm sorry but the best I can do is the second floor," she replied without having any actual sorrow in her voice. 
"Fine," I agreed knowing I didn't have any choice in the matter. 
Ray and I were getting a late start. We were headed to South Carolina to visit the parents and Ray's favorite cousin, Hannah, and as on our most recent previous trips, were splitting the drive into two days. The only difference was, this time we were flying solo, without the help of my sister, Kathy. I had already figured out how I was going to manage dinner and breakfast without a second person to babysit the dog, I wasn't quite prepared for the added complication of a second floor. 
We arrived at the hotel just as it was getting dark and starting to rain. I checked in, ran up to the room and looked out the window to see where I should park to keep the car in view (the bed of the truck was loaded with stuff that was covered with a tarp. I figured I would check on it periodically to make sure it wasn't being messed with). This seemed a good idea at the time, but in retrospect maybe exhaustion from a 3 a.m. doggy pee-call, a hectic morning packing, and a 4 hour drive, was keeping me from thinking particularly clearly. The spot was as far from an entrance as I could possibly park. 
I unloaded my suitcase and two other bags, one containing Ray's food, the other containing Christmas presents (if things were going to get stolen, at least I would still have presents), hooked Ray to his retractable leash and headed for the entrance I had chosen. Another bad idea I realized as soon as I got there. With my hands full of bags and dog, I couldn't hold the door open. This obviously had presented problems for people in the past. A large oblong rock the size of a football was nearby. I rolled it with my foot to prop open the door, let Ray in first, and then dragged in my bags. This led us to the bottom of the stairwell, two flights of 10 stairs each. I had briefly toyed with the idea of trying out the elevator but decided I'd stick with something that the blind dog knows how to handle before introducing him to the unknown. 

"C'mon, Ray," I said as I started up the stairs dragging all my luggage behind me. "Step up, step up, step up." 
I made it to the landing and looked back to see Ray's progress. He was still at the foot of the stairs, sitting back on his haunches. As soon as I gave his leash a little tug, he lay down. The immovable object. 
I stashed all my luggage in the corner of the stairwell and went back down. 
"C'mon, Ray, you can do it," I encouraged the hound. "Step up."
Ray stood. With trembling legs, he crawled up the first stair. 
"Step up," I said again and again as Ray, a quivering but brave mass, went up the nine remaining stairs. 
As soon as he made it to the landing, Ray once again sat back on his haunches. I moved my luggage to the top of the second flight and turned back to lead him up the remaining steps. It took awhile but Ray's trembling legs finally took him where I wanted him.   
I deposited our belongings in the room to the sound of Ray's whining. He wasn't happy about the room and wanted to complain to the management. I clipped the leash to him again and headed back to the stairs. 
"Step DOWN, Ray. Step DOWN," I said to the hound. Once again the haunches were brought into play and the quivering mass returned. Eventually, however, we made it to the bottom, and outside to the dog walk area. 
After a few more trips up and down the stairs and around the hotel, Ray was ready to try a different means of egress. He led me to the elevator and was sniffing around. 
"You want to try it?" I said to my amazing blind dog, pushing the down button. The door slid open. Ray cringed back a bit. I walked on as if nothing untoward had happened. 
"C'mon, Ray," I said giving the leash the lightest of tugs. 
Ray walked onto the elevator. The doors closed and it started to move. Ray hit the floor. We went down one floor and the doors opened. Ray didn't budge. After a bit of tugging on the leash and additional verbal encouragement, Ray was still in the same place. I moved behind him and nudged him with my legs. Ray gingerly crawled forward. We exited the elevator, Ray headed to the lobby and out the front door for another trip around the hotel, then back to the elevator. We went up. Ray's reaction did not improve. On the third try, Ray had had enough. No amount of encouragement was going to get him onto that elevator. He headed for the stairs and took them as if he went up and down two flights of stairs in strange hotels every day of his life. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Water Water Everywhere

The 4:30 arrooooo alarm went off. Thinking that I'd missed the scratching at the door and the whining part of "I have to go out," I threw back the covers and leapt out of bed. I went to the door and unhooked the hook-and-eye expecting to see the dog heading down the stairs.
Instead, Ray quickly tiptoed past me and hurled himself onto the bed, immediately settling into a tinylittle "you can't see me" posture next to Gregg.
Upon Ray's hurtling, Hugo, who had been sitting in my vacated warm spot waiting for me to come back to bed, spazzed across the bedside table in terror. Crashing ensued.
In the dark, I couldn't see what had gone flying but I heard water glugging and assumed my Tervis was a casualty. I turned on the light.
"Did you spill your water? Better get towels." said Gregg groggily as he turned over and went back to sleep.
I looked for my Tervis but didn't see it, although I still heard the water glugging out. I had bought the lidded cups when Gregg was convalescing to keep Moonie-head out of his water. She likes a nice drink of fresh water and will stick her head in any open glass to get a drink. Unfortunately, Moonie isn't smart enough to withdraw her head from a glass after a drink and will just drag the open container over once she is done. A blessing in disguise. Although water spills everywhere, at least most of the time she keeps us from unsuspectingly drinking cat-head contaminated water. As long as the drinking port is closed, the Tervis is spill-proof and cat-proof. The drinking port on my Tervis was obviously open.
I moved the bedside table and found the Tervis behind it with only an inch of water left in the bottom. I retrieved a soaking box of Kleenex from the floor next to it and removed the wet magazines from the top of table (how did water get ON the table when the cup was on the floor behind it????). I went to get towels.
As I mopped up the mess, I thought for the thousandth time of my BFF's favorite sarcastic-laden quote after a pet-related disaster: "Pets enrich our lives in SO many ways."

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Shakespearian Moment

It was close to five (in the morning) and I had to pee. This, the first decision of the day, sounds like such a minor thing. To pee or not to pee; that is the question. But the ramifications of getting out of bed to pee are significant enough that I lay in bed wondering if I could wait another hour.

I could not. I slid out of bed and crept stealthily to the bathroom. The floor creaked as I crept. I sighed.
I did my business, gently eased back into bed, and pulled the wool comforter over me. Just as I started to relax into the bed's warmth, I heard a dog collar. Then a scratch at the door. And then a barely audible whine.

I waited to see if Ray just wanted entry to the room so that he could crawl into bed with us or if he needed to go out. Lately, since I've been ignoring his whining, he's been going downstairs and howling to get me up. I heard the dog collar jingle down the stairs and then an arrrroooooo.

I sighed again and started to flip the bedclothes back when Gregg said "I'll get it. It's almost time to get up anyways."

I thanked my lovely husband. He got up, unhooked the door and exited the room.
"You can leave the door unhooked," I said as he left.

Hugo, who had been sleeping at my feet, walked the length of the bed, plucked at the comforter with his claws, slid under the cover, and curled himself against my side, right under my armpit; his excessive body mass making my arm extend from my shoulder just like a chicken wing. He purred and licked my hand, kneading my bicep with claws that were one-day away from a trimming.

At this point, the other ramification of getting up early started howling for her hoosh.* Moonie was up.

I heard the back door open and then the door to the microwave. Gregg had let the dog in and was preparing the old woman's breakfast of canned food and pancreatic enzyme. (He microwaves the food for six seconds, just enough to take the chill off.) Moonie continued her maniacal howling as Gregg carried the food up to her bedroom.

All of a sudden, Ray appeared on the bed. Hugo stopped purring and waited, ready to bolt if need be. Ray turned about a dozen circles, then settled himself on the side opposite the cat, at least half of his seventy pound weight resting uncomfortably on my body. He heaved a heavy sigh, groaned, then sighed again. Hugo resumed purring.

Ray struggled to get comfortable, squirming every few minutes, then finally stretched fully out across the bed and rested his cast-iron head on my stomach.

For some reason, sleep eluded me. I unfolded my chicken wing, removed iron-head from my belly, and left the sleeping hound in possession of the bed. Followed by my trusty cat, I headed downstairs to breakfast.

* (If you want to know what hoosh is, read about Shackleton's exploration of the Antartic, preferably when you are really, really hot. It will cool you down remarkably.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

VIDEO ALERT: Ray and Tucker Sing Christmas Carols

A new Christmas Classic. One you will want to watch over and over again. Ray and Tucker singing a spontaneous duet. I was lucky enough to have the camera in front of me on the table.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Ray and I were shopping for cat food at the local big-box pet store. One of the clerks, a girl who always makes a point of coming to pet Ray because she has a Bluetick Coonhound, was stocking the shelves. She stopped what she was doing when she saw Ray. Her eyes got a little misty.
"Hi, Ray," she said to my hound.
"What's wrong?" I asked, concerned.
"Our dog was becoming destructive. He was peeing and pooping all over," she said getting a bit choked-up.
"Oh, no," I said with dread in my voice, not wanting to hear the rest. "Was he sick? Did you have to..." my voice trailed off.
"So we had to give him to a shelter," she said.
I looked at her, stunned.
"How old was he?" I asked
"Ten." she replied. "He'd never done anything like that before. But he was peeing and pooping everywhere so my husband and I gave him to a shelter hoping that they could find him a home where he could stay outside all the time."
"That's horrible." I said, trying very hard not to sound judgmental. "It sounds like there was something wrong with him. Did you take him to the vet to find out?" I was edging away from her, not wanting to be contaminated by her nearness.
"Well, we had taken him to the vet before it started to happen and he was fine," she replied following me. Again she said, "He was getting destructive. He was peeing and pooping all over."
I was still moving away from her. I knew she was looking for me to say "You did the right thing," but all I could say was "That's horrible. You should have had him checked out. I don't know how you could give away a dog that you'd had for 10 years." I was still trying to keep the judgement out of my voice but wasn't sure I was succeeding.
"It was hard," she said, "But he was getting destructive. He was peeing and pooping all over."
She was stuck in a loop trying to defend the indefensible and justify the unjustifiable.
"That's horrible," I said again. I moved farther away from her. I felt like crying. She had finally stopped trying to follow me and was watching me mutely as I distanced myself from her.
Just then Ray let loose with an enormous deep-from-the-belly yell. In my preoccupation, I had let him get too near the cage with two cats up for adoption. He had 'treed' them. People came running from all over the store, drawn by the horrific noise, thinking that a dog was in distress. In a way they were right. It wasn't my dog, though, but an incontinent, 10-year old Bluetick Coonhound that had been abandoned by his family.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Ray the Blind Dog Banished from Bedroom!

After four days of creeping ever northward, Ray the Blind Dog was banished from sleeping with his parents until they forget and let him do it again.

Although the hound started off innocuously enough by sleeping curled in a little ball on his dad's side of the bed, every night brought him farther pillow-ward and curled in less of a ball. After watching the dog get closer and closer to his coveted spot, Hugo the Cat decamped in a huff. Ray spent one night curled in a ball between the pillows at the head of the bed. In not-unrelated news, the next day, he was given a bath.

On the night before he was banished, Ray the Blind Dog was stretched full-out, his back against his dad's, his legs extended to their not-insignificant length, pushing against his irate mother who, at this point, was clinging to the edge of the mattress.

On the night of the banishment, the hook-and-eye was deployed and the errant hound was locked out. He spent a considerable amount of time scratching at the door and whining to reclaim his lost privilege. Despite the pathetic-ness of the noise, his parents remained unyielding, knowing full well the inadvisability of letting the dog back to the scene of the crime. Every night thereafter has brought further whining and scratching, but less each night.

After his banishment, the blind hound has resumed sleeping in the space outside the bedroom, and the futon has once again become an expensive dog bed.

Hugo the Cat has since reclaimed his rightful spot.

Banished.  sigh.... 

Friday, November 30, 2012

A New Habit

When we first got Ray, when he was only a year old and full of beans, Ray was kept in the kitchen at night. Gregg would let him out before going to bed and when Ray would come back in, he would plop down on his bed, curl into his tight little ball, and fall instantly asleep. I felt bad about keeping him away from the rest of the family, but Ray didn't mind. He didn't know any of us or feel any burning desire to sleep with us.

Then we had the kitchen renovation (or the large, undisclosed amount of money dog door project, as I like to call it). We had to move Ray's bed somewhere, so we put him in front of the fireplace. Ray adapted to his new spot pretty quickly, especially because there was no 'kitchen,' to return to, just a gaping hole where a cozy room used to be. And as before, Ray would come in, find his bed, curl into his usual tiny mass, and fall asleep.

When the renovation was finished, we left Ray's bed in front of the fireplace. It was easier to not have to move it every night, and he had completely adapted to his new spot. So Ray's bed remained where it was.

Then Gregg got cancer, and I became the dog taker-outer at night. Ray would come back inside, and for while, would go back to his bed in front of the fireplace. At some point during the harrowing months of Gregg's treatment, Ray started following me up the stairs to bed. He and I made a pact that he could sleep upstairs, but it would have to be on the futon outside the bedroom. To make sure that Ray abided by this agreement, I engaged the hook-and-eye on the bedroom door, a tactic that Hugo was highly in favor of.

But at some point in the past few months, I'd stopped using the hook-and-eye on the bedroom door. It seemed kind of pointless since Ray was obviously abiding by the long-ago agreed-upon futon-pact. 

However, at the beginning of this week, after returning from a 4:00 a.m. perambulation around the backyard (it's a howling mistake to let him out by himself - he needs to be taken out on a leash), Ray launched himself onto the bed and curled up against Gregg while I was in the bathroom changing back into my jammies. Since it is impossible for me to move a dog of his size off of the bed without a huge struggle and a lot of grunting (thus waking my sleeping beauty of a husband), I let sleeping dogs lie. 

It turns out that this has been a rather bad error of judgement on my part. For the last three mornings, right around 4:00 a.m., Ray has snuck into the bedroom and launched himself up to sleep with Gregg. For a large dog, he is amazingly stealthy and light on his feet. He can land all four feet on the bed simultaneously without any cumbersome clambering. One second he is on the floor, the next he is on the bed. It's like a magic trick. 

"I woke up this morning being spooned by a dog," said my lovely husband yesterday morning.
He was surprisingly calm about the whole thing. Thinking that maybe this was a hint, last night when I went to bed, I re-engaged the hook-and-eye. This morning, at 4:00 a.m., Ray came to the bedroom door and found he couldn't get in. He scratched. I ignored. He scratched again. I ignored. He whined. I ignored. Gregg got up, unhooked the hook and let Ray in. 
Apparently, he has no objection to being spooned by a dog. Hugo, however, is appalled. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pocket Watch?

It was a cold, dreary, mizzly day. I'd left Ray curled up on the couch watching Wuthering Heights while I worked in the garage with power tools making his cousin, Hannah, a Christmas present. I had no idea what time it was but I knew the time for Ray's afternoon walk (3:00) must be approaching.
There was a knock at the garage door; the one that goes into the laundry room. I opened the door to the dog. His head was down around his knees in typical Ray mode.
"What's up buddy?" I asked my dog. "Is it time for your walk?"
I walked into the kitchen to check the clock on the stove. It was 2:59.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


"Where are the vultures?" asked my lovely husband in a strong German accent as he opened the refrigerator door.
"The vultures?" I responded quizzically and then asked "Why the German accent?"
"Casablanca," said Gregg cryptically, "This place is full of vultures, vultures everywhere."
He set a plate of leftover turkey on the counter, and as if by magic, Hugo materialized at his feet. A minute later the creaky old woman arrived, yowling. Ray who was sleeping on his favorite pillow on his favorite couch, lifted his head, sniffed the air, put his front feet on the floor, stretched, then ambled our way. 
As Ray arrived, Hugo retreated, but only to the foot of the stairs. As the turkey was added to the container with the leftover stuffing and then topped with gravy, he returned to pace nervously at the kitchen door not wanting to miss out on his share of what was to come. 
Gregg put our lunch in the microwave, shredded some of the leftover bird put it in the cat dishes and dropped some in the dog bowl.
While our lunch heated in the microwave, the vultures enjoyed a snack. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving photos

I have discovered that it takes only two hours of cooking turkey for all animals living in a domicile to appear in the kitchen looking for a handout. It takes much longer for an actual turkey to cook.

Helping with the tablecloth
Maddy's mom (Sandra) praying that the dinner is good
Gregg, hosting
Tryptophan overdose
Working off the calories

Looking good in sepia.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Something in Common

You can tell that Ray and Moonie are related.

They both like to sleep in the sun.

They both like cat food.

They both like to sit with their mom in the morning.

And they both DETEST vegetables.

Um, no thank you
No. Really.
A single pea left in Moonie's dish. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Feature

I had some feedback from one of Ray's fans, that a lot of times she doesn't add "comments" in the comment box because of those stupid words that you have to type in to prove that you are a person and not a robot. So this morning I took some time and looked at the blog format to see if there was some way to make life easier for all of Ray's fans.
I have added an option at the bottom of each blog to give one-word feedback. If you are pressed for time or really have nothing to say, all you have to do is check the box next to the word that best reflects your reaction. 
Apparently, there is no limit to the number of words I can put in the reaction section. So if you want to see your own reaction word in that list, put it in the comments box so that I can add it. For now you will have to settle for "like, funny, huh, and love this." (Notice that I didn't add any negative comments. My mom always said "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything." I don't follow her advice but I expect Ray's fans are better people than I.)
I would like to add that I would very much miss your comments so please don't stop commenting now that I've made it easier for you to do just that. Ray and I like to know what you think and we like to hear about your animals too. 
Thanks again for following Ray the Blind Dog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Yep. Forty thousand. 
That's how many hits Ray's blog has generated in the past 3.3 years.
I did the math and figured out that Ray has 32.9 diehard fans. So to Ray's 32.9 dedicated followers, this blog is for you.
Thank you.
Thank you for taking an interest in the doings of a blind hound, his two cats, his two humans, and his friends. We are humbled by your loyalty.
So for Ray's 32.9 people, here is a random selection of old and new photos of Ray, his cats, his humans, and his friends.
Hmmmm, tastes like chicken
Hey! Get off my butt!
Nope, I don't see it under here either.

Me and my best girl, Halle
I hate bees
Hiking. It's what we do.
I've heard that it's good luck to kiss a cat. 
The squirrels will never know it's me in this disguise
Bag o bones
It's my me of sunshine.
(Ha! Get it? RAY of sunshine! snort)
I'm taking back the couch. It's MINE. 
I like a burrito after a bath
I'm taking back the kitchen door. It's MINE.
Here, I'll hold down the fabric. You cut it.
I'm taking back the windowsill. It's MINE.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Yesterday we returned to the scene of Ray's experience with cliff-walking. This time, I kept more of a close eye on the blind hound as we meandered the trail. The last few months have brought major storms to the area which appear to have caused more soil erosion. The cliffs seemed a bit closer to the trails. We were walking just that much closer to the edge. Slightly worrisome for the sighted, not so much for the blind. 

But that is beside the point. What I really wanted to bring up is a disturbing new quirk in Ray. Over the past few months I have noticed that Ray has developed an active dislike of the bully breeds: Pit bulls, Boxers, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, Ridgebacks. If it's got some bully, Ray doesn't like it.

I can't say for sure, but I think it kinda started with his run-in with Lefty. Then there was the emphysemic-sounding English Bulldog that was staying next-door to my parents last time we were visiting. I could tell that she was hurling some really vile insults at Ray while we were there and no amount of his singing was going to win her over. Then there was the Boxer/Ridgeback mix that Ray has met a couple of time while walking around the lake. Although she's a sweet dog, she has inadvertently socked him in the eye a couple of times. 

Now, when Ray meets a bully, he growls. And if I'm not alert, he'll start a fight. It's happened enough over the past few months that I can no longer pretend that it's an anomaly. Dogs that have done nothing to him are being singled out because of their breed. 

So yesterday, while we were walking the cliffs, an off-leash, white Boxer came running up behind us. We didn't see him until he was amongst us. His body posture was all dominance, very upright, with stiff legs. His owners were nowhere to be seen. He scared the bejeezus out of me. Ray turned to meet him, gave one sniff, and let loose with his deep-from-the-belly yell. And he kept on yelling long after the dog had tucked his nub of a tail, turned, and ran. 

So here's the usual question: How does he know what kind of dog it is? 

I've pretty much accepted that Ray can smell color but can he also smell breed?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Daylight Savings Time

It was four o'clock and I was on my knees dusting the coffee table. The afternoon sun had glanced through the windows and lit up the dust on every horizontal surface within view. The room was positively glowing with shiny dust particles and I couldn't ignore it any longer.
Ray was standing behind me, whining. The clocks had been turned back the weekend before and he still wasn't used to daylight savings time. He only knew that he always ate at the same time every day, and it was way beyond that.
"Be quiet," I said to ole whiny, not turning to look at him. "I have to finish dusting and you are just going to have to wait."
Ray paused a moment then whined again.
Still not looking at him, I said "I'm sorry you're hungry but there are a lot of hungry dogs in the world. You are just going to have to wait."
Ray waited until I finished talking then whined again.
Still kneeling, still dusting and now irritated, I turned around. Ray's nose was millimeters from mine, his head tilted at a 45 degree angle, his automatic response whenever I say the word "hungry."
I couldn't help myself, I laughed, got to my feet, and headed to the kitchen.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ring Toss.

It was a beautiful fall day; sunny, brisk, and breezy. I was in the backyard raking leaves into piles to be ground into leaf mulch later in the week. At least, that was the plan. Half way into my first gigantic pile, I realized that the mountain of leaves was right smack in the middle of Ray's path to the back fence. I looked around for a more suitable location and moved the mountain. I pondered how the smallest thing can become an obstacle to a disabled being.

Ray was snoozing in the sun on a bed of leaves. He had been playing with Tucker, his Australian Cattle Dog friend, and was exhausted. Tucker wasn't. He ran up and dropped a toy at my feet. The stuffed squirrel had been attached spread-eagle to a ring of rope, marking an X in the middle of the loop. As I had been tossing it, and as Tucker had been retrieving and shaking the living daylights out of it, the flying squirrel had migrated so that all four of its feet were left gamely clinging to the same spot. Now its flight path was irregular and unpredictable. I didn't know how far or high it was going to go. Even the direction was questionable.

Tucker nudged the squirrel at me. I bent to pick it up, and at that movement, Tucker shot through the nearest pile of leaves, running in the direction of the anticipated toss. I threw the squirrel. It was low and fast, but so was the dog. The squirrel skimmed the ground, hit something, and flipped up. Tucker was right there on it, his head piercing the loop like a trick dog at a circus. The squirrel settled around his neck, dangling from the rope like a filthy, furry pendant. Without missing a beat, Tucker turned and raced back to me, the squirrel bouncing on his chest. I laughed at the grinning dog. I had won the ring toss without even trying. I wondered what my prize was.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Because I've never had a dog before, I can't be sure if the following things are typical of dogs or not. But I've talked to a lot of people with dogs and have come to believe that some of Ray's characteristics are somewhat different than most dogs. So I've laid out the things that I've come to think of as slightly odd in a dog (based on information gleaned from speaking to other owners) and would be interested in feedback. Odd? Or not?

My dog has a delicate stomach. And he seems to enjoy baths, although he likes to be bathed in the sink at the daycare not out in the driveway (it's a modesty thing). He doesn't like fruit or vegetables of any kind. He will not eat most dog treats, only the really expensive ones or, on occasion, something offered by a stranger, although I can tell by the look on his face that he is just eating it to be polite. He will stand still to be dressed in any silly thing that I make for him. He enjoys yarn and, like a cat, wants to be right in the middle of any project on which I'm working. He likes a cup of coffee in the morning if he can steal one. He rarely (almost never) is excited to see his owners but is over the moon to meet anyone else. He likes to lie in the sun on a sweltering day. He loves to roll in a dryer sheet. He howls for football games (Home games on a Friday night, when the home team is winning, are quite noisy around here). He is not afraid to go to the vet. And, he has learned, after THREE years, to love a cat.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Light Reading

Since I have less and less to write about as Ray becomes better and better (except for minor lapses like Halloween dinner), I would like to propose an alternative blog for those of you who feel the need to follow a blind dog.
Last month, acd6pack started a blog about her seven Australian Cattle Dogs. Of the seven, three are blind, one is deaf, all are rescues from bad situations. Acd has great photos and lots of short videos on youtube. Ray and I are big fans.
So here is the link to acd6pack's blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It was a dark and stormy eve of Halloween

I have decided, after much cogitation, that Ray is a good dog.

I admit that I had a few concerns about getting Ray to go do his 'business' while Hurricane Sandy was in town. But despite getting the "Aren't you coming?" look from him every single time he needed to go outside and refusing, in fact, to go outside unless he was accompanied, Ray was a good dog. He weathered the storm in fine style, only needing to be dragged out into the sideways rain for a very brief, but enlightening, walk after much whining to let me know that, in fact, he goes out every day for a walk at exactly the same time. Good dog that he is, Ray made an exception for Hurricane Sandy. He decided that perhaps, as an alternative, he could take his exercise in the form of multiple trips around the coffee table holding a bone in his mouth (cardio and weightlifting) and thought that perhaps we needed the exercise too and should, in fact, chase him. So, for the duration of Sandy, we all took our exercise as laps around the coffee table.

Ray was also a good dog for Halloween. This year, he was quite insistent that he should get to pick out his own costume. After three years of being dressed in humiliating outfits, (Sheerluck Hound , Stanley Kowalski, and a sheep (here's one more photo of that one), Ray wanted to go as one of his own kind. He described to me his requirements, and although I had my doubts about the thoroughness of his knowledge of the subject, I procured for him the necessary accoutrements. Satisfied, Ray did his trick-or-treating at the usual households (Halle's grandma, pictured below, and Maddy's folks) and we returned home in time to finish up our last minute preparations for the evening.

While Gregg prepared dinner, and Ray rested in anticipation of our nocturnal guests, I tweaked the Halloween decorations (having put them up once, taken them down in anticipation of the storm, and then put them up again in a Readers Digest condensed version). Upon completion of my task, Gregg and I took to the street to view the house in all its Halloween glory while Ray chose to stay behind, curled in his usual position of contentment.

After suitably appreciating the skulliferous display, we retreated to the house for our repast before the advent of ghosts, goblins, pirates, and hookers. Upon entering the house, I looked around for the hound wondering if, perhaps, he had managed to sneak out through the open front door without our noticing. I enquired if Gregg had, in fact, seen the dog leave the house. Gregg, in fact, had not, but opined that maybe Ray had gone into the backyard.

I entered the kitchen, through which I needed to pass to enter the backyard, just in time to view the dog with his feet on the counter, his neck stretched to maximum stretchiness, licking the chicken that Gregg had lovingly prepared and arranged on a serving platter.

I have decided, upon reflection, that Ray is a good dog, right up until the very second that he is bad.

What do you think? I look just like a Saint Bernard, don't I.
You look like you've been over-rescued. 
How 'bout you? Do you need rescuing? 
 I think I'm too late for these guys.
Trick or treat.
Hey, you look pale. Do you need rescuing?
I think there's something in this bush.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Please pay at the door

It was early. We were headed around the 'long block,' the one we rarely walk anymore because it's just not long enough to tire out the blind hound. But Hurricane Sandy was on his/her way and Gregg and I had hatches to batten so Ray was going to have take one for the team. While Gregg was out buying food and gassing up his car, Ray and I were out getting truncated exercise.
Up the street, walking toward us, was a group of three teenage girls trailed by a teenage-girl-father. They were going door-to-door trying to raise funds for the high school choral team.
"What kind of dog is that?" asked the father as Ray and I were about to pass.
We stopped and I gave him the usual spiel about Ray while the girls were giving their spiel to a person who had been unlucky enough to open their door.
The girls turned from their victim and came towards us down the walkway. Ray 'looked' their way, his ears alertly deployed in Dumbo mode, his head tilted inquisitively. The girls paused en masse. They all looked startlingly similar; the same height and shape, with long brown hair and vaguely pleasant features, but without being obviously related in any way. They looked at Ray, who was blocking their access to the sidewalk, uncertain as to what to do.
"This dog is blind," said the father.
The girls all awwwwwed but none of them made a move to pet or approach Ray, visibly uncomfortable being near such a large a dog.
I moved Ray out of the way, wished the girls good luck and walked on.
"Make sure to donate if we come to your door," yelled the father after us as we ambled away.
The girls all giggled and looked embarrassed.
"I will," I shouted back secure in the knowledge that they were headed away from my house.
Later that afternoon, Gregg and I were finishing up a late lunch and getting ready to climb the roof to our next hatch-battening chore - clearing the gutters. I glanced out the front window to see the three teenage girls coming up the walkway to my door. The teenage-girl-father was waiting on the sidewalk.
"Ray, your friends are here," I said to my hound as I reached for my purse.
Ray trotted to the door to greet the fund-raisers. They looked nervously at the dog as I opened the door and handed them my donation. I watched cautiously, ready to make a quick grab, as Ray walked slowly out the door and past the girls, making no move in their direction. He stepped off the porch, flopped on the walkway, and turned to 'look' coyly over one shoulder at the now-giggling group.
"Ray, did you want them to rub your belly?" I asked the recumbent dog.
Ray tentatively lifted his front leg to expose his belly, obviously not expecting much, knowing he was playing to a tough crowd. I saw jaws drop; an identical look of astonishment was on the faces of the three girls. The giggling intensified.
"One of you better rub his belly!" called the father, watching the show from the sidewalk.
I walked around the girls, squatted next to my dog, and scrubbed his belly. Reassured by the display, the bravest of the three approached, and watched apprehensively by the other two, bent over to gently touch Ray's belly.
Ray stayed still, relaxing, enjoying his moment of triumph.

Friday, October 26, 2012

They're baaaaaack

Well, it's been over three years and we have finally reached the milestone for which I've been patiently waiting: the cats are back. Both of them. At the same time. On the couch. While the dog is in the same room. I'm not going to go so far as to say everyone is comfortable in the same room, but at least they are there.
Hugo has been coming out of Cat Siberia more and more. I think he had a bit of an epiphany on the day that he watched  Ray lick Moonie's ears clean and the old cat lived to tell about it. Hugo also has discovered the power of the hiss. Ray doesn't exactly know what the hiss is or who it issues from (he's still never gotten close enough to get a good sniff of that thing) but he has come to realize that it's a warning from something that has claws and maybe, just maybe, he should pay attention.
For months Moonie has been coming down from her retirement home and into the kitchen to yell at us for food five times a day. But only recently has Hugo returned as a kitchen-cat. For the longest time he would go no farther than the foot of the stairs. He would plop himself down on the carpet and pretend to lounge only to evaporate into thin air at the slightest sound. Now, Hugo plops and waits until the dog is uncomfortably close, then, and only then, will he hiss and bolt, or hiss and nervously walk into the next room, stretching his neck to keep an eye on the beast to make sure that he's not being followed.
And now they are both back. At the same time. On the couch. While the dog is in the same room. Maybe it only lasted for five minutes, but I see it as a very good start.  And it only took three years.

Here's a video of 8 photos to commemorate the event. Hugo is the black blob in the background. Ray is sitting out of view, in Gregg's chair, opposite us.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Bullet?

"So, whered'yawannago?" I asked my lovely husband.
It was an absolutely gorgeous fall morning and we had a few hours to kill before Ray's date with destiny. His eye appointment was at noon and Gregg had taken the day off to support us in case Ray required surgery. Since Ray had slept all day Sunday because of excessive partying at the autumn Beer and Bonfire on Saturday, he was more than ready to go for a nice long walk. We needed to distract the dog to keep his mind off the fact that he wasn't allowed any food or water until after his potential surgery.
"I don't know," replied Gregg, "Let's check the book."
We spent a few minutes skimming Doggin' Northern Virginia, the 50 Best Places to Hike with your Dog in NoVA and at the end of a short discussion, we decided on the Battlefields of Manassas, a place we hadn't visited in years. It was just far enough away, and the trail was just long enough, that we could kill the requisite amount of time.
Ray was thrilled to be going somewhere new. Every time we stopped at a red light, he would uncurl himself from his usual travel position to hang his head out the window, sniff the air, and whine a bit. Then, when the car would start moving again, he would curl back up until the next red light. By the time we got to the battlefield, Ray was ready to GO; he literally hit the ground running.
Be careful of what?
I held tight to his leash, and while Gregg went off to see if he could procure a map, Ray and I ran to visit Stonewall Jackson. Then we ran to the first stop of the self-guided tour, and then ran to the second. By the time Gregg was out of the visitor's center and had caught up to us, Ray and I were well along the tour.
The park was virtually deserted. We were watching the clock, trying not to get distracted by the beauty of the day. At exactly 11:30, we were back in the car and headed to the doctor's office.

Let's go. Let's go. Let's GO.
Hey, is it legal to pee on part of a national monument?
Can't you let me off this leash for just a second?
I promise not to go too far.
Ok, I'll pose next to it, but it doesn't mean that I condone in any way,
any act of aggression, on the part of anyone or anything. 

I don't know about you, but I'm having a GREAT time.
When we arrived, the doctor was in surgery.
"What are you here for?"asked the assistant.
We told him that we were here to get Ray's eye pressure checked and then surgery if the pressure was still too high.
"It'll probably be another 30 minutes," the assistant told us. "Do you want to wait outside?"
We nodded our assent, too nervous to engage in idle conversation. We went back through the door and headed towards the adjacent neighborhood. We walked Ray up and down random streets, killing time, meeting no one but an ancient Indian man with a white beard and top-knot. He was wearing a traditional kurta pyjama and had a silver bracelet encircling one thin wrist. As he checked his mailbox, we wished him a good morning. He smiled at Ray, said hello, and asked if Ray was a good dog. We assented. The old man came to pet Ray who's interest was taken by the old man's Pomeranian yapping at Ray through the front door of his house. We told the old man that Ray was blind and that we were waiting for the eye doctor. The old man tsked, shook his head, and asked how Ray became blind.
"He was born that way," I told him.
The old man tsked some more.
"So terrible," he said, real distress in his voice and on his face.
"No," I replied, "He doesn't know."
The old man was still tsking, stroking Ray, then bent down to try to hug him. Ray edged away a bit. The old man persisted. Ray, sensing the man's pain, relented and tried to give him a kiss. Delighted the old man hugged him again. He wished on Ray some of God's blessings and we continued back to the doctor's office.
The doctor came out in her scrubs with mask and hair cover in place. She retrieved her instrument to check Ray's eye pressure, shone it in his eye, looked at the reading, then looked at me.
"It's 10," she said.
"That's good, right?" I replied.
"Yes, that's in the comfortable range," she said, "The meds are working. He can still have the surgery, but if it was my dog, I wouldn't do it. Make an appointment for two months out and we'll check him again. Because he has secondary glaucoma, he may never need the surgery. If it was primary glaucoma, he would have to have the surgery eventually, but this is different. We'll just monitor him and see what happens."
Gregg and I thanked the doctor profusely. We led our dog out of the office, bundled him into the car, and headed home. The old man's blessings had obviously worked. The blind dog had dodged a bullet and we were thrilled.