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.