Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cartoons

The cat room is ever fascinating to the blind dog. I cannot enter it without him close on my heels.
I've stopped worrying about the cats. Hugo has learned to take care of himself and Moonie appears to be a favorite (as long as she stays off the floor). So when Ray jumped up on the bed, all I did was stand back and observe. I think he was trying to figure out how to jam himself into the cat bed that was in the sunny spot. Ray loves to sun himself.

Moonie to Ray, "No, no, no. You put your butt in the bed and your feet off the edge. Like this, see?"

Ray to Moonie, "Oh, ok...

...like this?"

Hugo to no one in particular, "I'm surrounded by morons."

Ray to Hugo, "Did you say something? I couldn't hear you, my head was in a hole"

If I had a hammer...

"Good luck with the construction," said Gregg as he left the house on his way to work.
"Thanks," I replied as I heard the door shut behind him.
There was a squeak. I looked at Ray who had picked a toy out of his basket and was standing in the front hall 'looking' at me. I laughed and stood up to grab at the toy, a rubber hammer that I had bought for him eons ago before I realized he didn't like anything rubber. He had shown no interest in it (even though it has a great squeaker) since the day he got it.
As I grabbed the hammer, Ray let it go and made the universal sign of 'blech' with his mouth, pulling his lips back and sticking out his tongue. He made no move to retrieve his hammer; his impulse to help with the construction had passed.
Ray with his hammer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inspiration in the Neighborhood

On our innumerable walks around the neighborhood, Ray and I have met many dogs and their people. Sometimes we meet people and dogs that inspire us.
We knew that one couple had multiple dogs because every time we walked by their house two or three or four dogs would be in the window barking at us. And whenever we would see one or the other of the couple walking, there would be two or three dogs at the end of a leash. And last year, when I finally asked the man-half of the couple how many dogs they had, he replied with a guarded look on his face, "I really couldn't say."
I thought this was a slightly unusual response and didn't pursue the matter because he obviously didn't want to reveal the exact number (there are local ordnances regulating the number of dogs/household). The man told me that they were active in a local dog rescue and had fostered many dogs so the number fluctuated. The thing that I found out last week was that the woman-half of the couple has a real soft-spot for un-adoptables.
She was sitting on her front porch watching a little dog scampering around the yard. As always, Ray and I stopped to chat and we got meet Daisy, the Chihuahua and Peyton, the mixed breed.
Daisy had had a stroke and moved like a sailor on shore leave. Her tongue lolled out one side of her mouth and she was incontinent. She was also the happiest little dog and would faint (that's what it looked like) (Ray's version is a flop) to expose her belly whenever her owner bent over to pet her.
Daisy
Ray tried to get close enough to get a sniff of the little dog but Daisy would scoot out of the way every time he got near. Usually this sets Ray to yelling but this time he just cocked his head to one side quizzically. He couldn't track her because she wasn't wearing a jingling tag and she was just too zoomie. I tried to get Daisy to come to me so that I could get a picture but she obviously thought we were playing and would zip circles around the bushes. Her owner scooped her up so that I could take a quick pic of the cutie, then brought out her other favorite, Peyton.
Peyton was a new addition. He had been found at the side of the road starving and has something wrong with his legs. He doesn't move well. His owner told me that they have put plastic runners all through the house so that Peyton can stay on his feet, otherwise his legs skid out from under him on the tile floors. She said that they had managed to get some weight on him but that recently he had stopped eating. They were worried.
Daisy, scampering, and Peyton, relaxing
I thought of how how much life-rearranging needs to take place to house dogs like this and found myself thinking how very EASY Ray is in comparison.
Like I said before, sometimes we meet people and dogs that inspire us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another Renovation

The plastic sheeting was making crinkly sounds and moving. Felipe and I stopped staring at the ceiling and looked at each other quizzically. We had been discussing the placement of the new recessed lights, and the plastic sheeting, which was taped to the ceiling and draped over all of the furniture, had been quiet and unmoving up until now. Felipe was part of the construction crew that had worked on the large, undisclosed-amount-of-money dog-door project and he was back to work on the fireplace and new lights.
Felipe at work
We glanced behind us and saw Ray gingerly picking his way through the room, poking at the plastic sheeting with his nose. Things were not as they should be. Everything was moved around, it was late, he was tired, and he wanted to go to bed.
Felipe and I watched as Ray made several forays into the plastic with his nose before giving up on a frontal assault and retreating down the length of the room to where the plastic sheet ended. He poked around a bit, found an opening, and delicately stepped through into the tunnel created by the sheet and the furniture.
Find the hidden dog
"What is he doing?" asked Felipe with a seriously perplexed look on his face.
"I think he's trying to find his pillow," I replied.
I was just guessing. Ray had finished dinner and it was after 4:00 - his winter bedtime.
Ray slowly made his way from one end of the couch to his pillow on the opposite end, being very careful not to bonk into UFOs (unexpected furniture objects). He pulled himself up onto the couch, curled into a ball, harrumphed, groaned, sighed and settled in for a snooze.
Can you see him now?
The look on Felipe's face of pure astonishment had me laughing.
"That's amaaaazing," said Felipe obviously impressed by the blind dog's homing instinct.
In the tunnel

Friday, March 23, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Repeat

Ray's patience was wearing thin. It was past his walk time and I was still painting the stairwell. He stood at the foot of the stairs, whining.
When Ray whines, he makes a sound that is such a high register that it's almost inaudible. Except it's not. It's a sound that gets into your head and makes your eardrums itch. I was having trouble concentrating.
"Stop whining, Ray," I commanded my dog.
"mmmmeeeemeemememeeeeeeeeemeeememmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemmmemeeeeee," replied my dog.
"Look, Ray, I'll cut you a deal. You leave me alone for 30 more minutes and I will take you around the long block." I said.
Ray stopped whining but only long enough to pick up a corner of the drop cloth that I was standing on and flap it around a couple of times. I laughed. I wasn't buying his bad-dog act. Somehow, I had become the proud owner of a good dog and I knew it. He wasn't going to do anything bad enough to get my attention.
Ray disgustedly spat out the corner of the drop cloth and, by happy accident, tripped over one of my shoes. He gleefully picked it up and went into play stance, forefeet down, butt up, tail wagging. He knows that shoes ALWAYS get a reaction. Except this time.
"Ray, leave the shoe," I said without stopping what I was doing, "Go find your bone."
Ray didn't leave the shoe. He was turning circles at the foot of the stairs, the shoe still between his teeth. He threw it up in the air a couple of times then turned to 'look' at me for my reaction. Nothing. Ray settled down for a nice shoe chew at the foot of the stairs, but his eyebrows were giving him away. They were nervously doing the dance on his forehead.
I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye to make sure my shoe wasn't in any real danger. It looked a bit slobbery but I didn't see any teethmarks. I finished up the wall and, followed by my trusty hound, went to clean my paintbrush. He stood behind me in the laundry room, whining, then started rummaging along the laundry room shelf.
I knew what he was looking for and, since he'd been a good dog, I gave him one of his favorite treats. A fabric softener dryer sheet.
Ray carefully exited the laundry room (it's a bit tricky for the blind hound to navigate) then trotted off with the dryer sheet to make himself smell fresh all over.
If you haven't seen this before - here it is again. Ray's video of what he does with dryer sheets.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Police Dogs in Training


I've often seen this photo, forwarded by friends through email, and have always been impressed with the training of those dogs - to sit there, en masse, while a cat saunters by.
Well, I was going through and deleting photos off of my phone and realized that I had taken similar photos recently when Maddie was visiting us.
Hugo (as usual) was outside and wanted to come in. Unlike Ray, who loves to use his dog door, Hugo prefers to have his doorman hold the door open for him when he enters his abode. But the dogs were inside and every time I held open the door, Hugo would just pace nervously on the stoop.
Hugo viewing Maddie through the glass door
So, I put the dogs in the living room and told them to sit and stay.

Sitting and Staying
Hugo knows when I say "stay" that Ray's feet magically become glued to the floor and that he can freely walk by. Sometimes Hugo will race by, and sometimes he likes to abuse Ray's good nature by pacing back and forth in front of the dog or lying down a few feet away while Ray sits, very alertly, 'looking' in Hugo's general direction.

In this case, though, there was the unknown quantity of that extra dog. So, Hugo came in and raced for the stairs, the stopped and thought about if for a minute.
Hugo Thinking about it
Then he rapidly paced back to me, then back to the stairs, then back to me.
Hugo pacing
The dogs waited patiently until Maddie's curiosity got the better of her and she stood up. Whereupon Hugo evaporated.
Poof
Disregarding the fact that Maddie piddles when she is excited and that Ray is blind, I think that these two dogs would make GREAT police dogs. They can ignore a cat with the best of them.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Decision

I have decided that a dog, offering you his belly for a belly-rub, is equivalent to a cat purring because he is contented.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

You have GOT to be kidding me

I was working on the last part of the upstairs painting project - the stairwell. I had decided, in a moment of lunacy, that there needed to be 'texture' in this space and had decided on a simple trompe l'oeil effect that, in theory, will look like stone blocks (God only knows what the reality will look like - I figure I've got lots of paint left for when the reality doesn't pan out).
So, this morning I was sponging some paint on the wall space when that bĂȘte noir of painters everywhere appeared on the stairs. Hugo, who had been outside and was on his way to the cat room, was headed straight for the paint tray which was stationed in the middle of the stair landing.
I screamed, which of course freaked out the scaredy-cat and made him come towards me faster because he was trying to get to the safety of his room.
The rubber gloves on my hands were completely covered with paint and holding a sponge so I couldn't grab him. I did the only thing I could, which was reroute him, using the back of one paint-covered glove, away from the paint tray and into the paint-covered wall. Hugo struggled to get into the paint tray which was on a more direct route to his room, but after the last cat/paint fiasco, I was serious about keeping his paws paint-free. I pinned him against the landing wall as he went past the tray, the black cat fur acting as a de facto sponge, wiping a swath through the fresh paint. Once he was past, I let him loose and started laughing. I ran to get my camera...
What?

Oh, I meant to do that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Signs of Spring

It's early this year. But it is definitely here. I know because of the following:

Flowers are popping up all over.


Turtles are out sunning themselves on logs
(look closely, they're there)

Frogs are everywhere.

And Ray can't make it around the block without passing out in someone's driveway.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring has Sprung

With the advent of warmer weather, Ray is once again lovin' life. Not because he is a warm weather hound (he actually seems to have much more energy when it's cooler), but because there are kids outside playing. The walk around the block that usually takes about 15-20 minutes in the winter months, takes about twice that in the spring when kids are once again enjoying the great outdoors.
If Ray hears a kid-voice, his tail starts wagging, then he points his nose in the general direction of the voice, and then he tries to drag me in the general direction of the kid. If it's a kid that Ray knows, I will assess if the kid seems interested in giving my dog a belly-rub. If the answer is yes, I will let Ray pull me over to the kid and let him flop for a few minutes. If the answer is no, I will tell Ray to keep on walking.
Ray is generally pretty good about listening to me, unless of course there is a baby involved. If there is, all bets of good behavior are off. Ray LOVES babies and just wants to lick them from head to toe. For some reason most mothers are reluctant to have their offspring bathed in this way. But every once in awhile, Ray gets lucky. Someone will let him lick their baby's feet and legs. If he is very lucky, he gets a hand, and if he is very, very lucky, Ray gets to plant a kiss on the baby's face. Ray lives for these moments.
So, I'm happy to report that we have one baby at the end of the street whose mother loves Ray. Whenever she sees us walking by, she will bring the baby to Ray for a quick lick and her little boy and little girl will come out to rub his belly. I have told my good neighbor, that if anything ever happens to me, she is to take Ray and keep him. I can't imagine a better life for Ray than one with a little boy, a little girl, and a baby. My good neighbor has said she will so I can rest easy.
Although, if Ray knew what was agreed upon, I have to think he might try to plot my untimely end.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Random Ray Photos

Ray and Hugo
Mmmmmm, donuts

Heh, heh, heh. Hugoooooo

Hey Hugo, wanna donut?



Ray and Maddie
Whoa, did you see that?

What WAS that?

I don't know but I think we should pretend we didn't see antything

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Reminiscing

Sometimes I time travel. I do this by looking at old blogs to see what Ray was up to two years ago (or one year ago) on the same day. Two years ago, I posted this video of Ray at the dogpark. This morning we are once again heading to the dogpark, although I don't sing the dogpark song anymore. The dogs that I mentioned in the dogpark song don't come to the dogpark anymore.
Ray's friend Nikki developed toy aggression. Her owner used to come and walk around, scouring the park for anything that could remotely be considered a toy. She would carry a tote bag and fill it with balls, Frisbees, sticks, and other oddments so that Nikki wouldn't find something to fight over. (Nikki always found SOMETHING). Just before leaving the park, Nikki's owner would walk along throwing stuff out of the tote bag watched bemusedly by people who didn't know the back-story and watched with amusement by people who did.
Pepper, a driven Border Collie mix, stopped coming to the park too. She never really liked it when Ray chased her chasing a ball and would often snap at him. Her owner decided to walk Pepper instead of chucking balls for an hour. Last time I saw Pepper's owner, she had lost about 20 pounds. One of those health benefits of owning a dog.
Cherry the Chocolate Lab still comes to the park, but at a different time. Cherry is one of Ray's favorites so she was a bit of a loss. Her owner joined the dogpark board and comes to the park to restock the poop-bag stations. We were there one day when he was doing just that and when Ray heard his voice, the blind hound started tossing around searching for his friend Cherry. It was kind of heartbreaking. But as long as there is any dog at the park chasing a ball, Ray is happy. He lives to chase a dog chasing a ball (or even better, to hound a small, nervous dog.)
So although the cast members have changed a bit, the fact that we are still going to the dogpark has not. I wonder if it will be true a year from now?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cat + Paint = Blog

I had finished priming all the walls upstairs except for the door to the cat room. The door needed to be open while I painted, and Ray needed to be gone for that to happen.
So first thing this morning, I dropped Ray at school, came home, assembled my painting paraphernalia, and got ready to prime the door to the cat room. Hugo was nervously pacing about so I walked with him downstairs and opened his cat door to the outside so that he could enjoy some sunshine. I returned to my job upstairs.
Since everything else was already primed, I was using a small paint tray with just enough paint to prime the door and frame. I loaded up the paint pad and made quick work of the door, then added a bit more paint to the tray to finish up the frame. I was stashing the bucket of paint out of the way when I saw Hugo out of the corner of my eye. I watched, stunned, as he nervously walked up to the open door, right through the paint tray, and across the area rug. As he reached the hardwood floor he realized that there was something seriously amiss with one of his paws so he stopped, lifted the one that had the most paint on it, and flicked it. Paint scattered
At this point I tried to intervene.
"Hugo," I cooed to my scaredy cat, "Come here, Hugo."
Hugo, recognizing the voice I use to try to lure him into his cat carrier for a trip to the vet, made a dash around the bed and took a dive under it. Because he is a fatty, he scooted under the bed on his belly, wiping up paint-prints with his belly-fur as he went.
I decided, at this point, that maybe I should just do damage control. Using a wet rag, I de-painted the rug, then scrubbed at the footprints on the hardwood. Hugo, feeling slightly more secure at this juncture, came out from under the bed and jumped up on top of it. He walked across the sheet covering the bed, then turned, lifted his painty paw, and glared at me (like it was my fault). I calmly walked over, pinned him down, dragged him to me, and spent 20 minutes or so trying to get all the white paint off of the two-toned cat. As soon as he was once again wholly black, I returned to de-painting the rest of the room.
Through this whole process, all I could think was that I had TWO dogs here the other day, one of them blind and one of them with a frilly skirt and I managed to prime an ENTIRE upstairs. The only collateral damage through that event was a spot of paint on Ray's left eyebrow. And here I was priming one little door and I had to spend an hour on damage control because of a cat.

More Stats

Yeah, I know, you're probably thinking, "WHY does she keep bringing up these stupid statistics?" The answer is, because I can't help myself.
I look at a list of the top countries that follow Ray's blog and it just brings so many questions to my mind. Like, why are the top three countries (excluding the U.S.) that follow Ray's blog Germany, Russia, and Ukraine? The U.K. is usually in there as well. They swap places depending on how long the tracked time is. (For example: during the timeframe spanning Feb. 29th - Mar. 7th, 48 Germans, 46 Ukrainians, and 32 Russians viewed Ray's blog. But during the timeframe Feb. 6th - Mar. 6th, the British edged out the Germans for a spot in the top three. The total was 161 Ukrainians, 86 Russians, 83 Brits, and 55 Germans.)
I'm not saying that there is HUGE following in these countries (yes, I can hear you laughing at the little numbers) but what I can't understand is why is there a following at all? Are there a lot of blind dogs in Ukraine which would make people google the term and accidently find a blog about one? Do they then have family in Germany or Russia and tell them about it and then they become followers? What is the process at work?
Like I said, I can't help myself. I see stats and I want to know why. But unless someone from Ukraine, Russia, or Germany puts in a comment below, I guess I'll never know.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Goodbye Ken

Last week, on Wednesday, during a driving rainstorm, Ray's friends Ken and Miko moved away. Ray loved Ken and Miko. Whenever we walked around the block, Ray's tail would start to swing whenever we got about a house-length away from Ken's. Now when we walk around the block and Ray's tail starts to swing, I say, "Ken's gone Ray. He doesn't live there anymore."
Ray is not dissuaded. Yesterday, he pulled me up to Ken's house, climbed up on the front porch and lay down, Sphinx-like.
"Ken's gone, Ray. He's not coming back," I told my dog. "Lets go."
Ray relaxed a little onto his side as if to say "I'll wait. I know he'll be back."
I felt myself choking up. I found myself thinking of all of the people I've met since adopting this blind hound and how much he has changed my life. Someone that I didn't know two years ago has moved out of his house and I miss him every time I walk by. So does my dog.

Look out, here we come.

I have found that I can occupy approximately 37 feet of sidewalk while walking two dogs with retractable leashes. 16 feet x 2 + 5 feet of Jean with arms outstretched while Ray sniffs one thing 16 feet in front and Maddie finds something to eat 16 feet behind.
Wow, what a feeling of power. I am 37 feet wide.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A piece of advice

Never wear a fleecy bathrobe while brushing a shedding dog.

Friday, March 2, 2012

PlayDate?

Today I had to paint. It's been more than a year since the completion of the large, undisclosed- amount-of-money dog-door project and I still haven't finished painting all the things that need to be painted. I finished most of the projects but then was overtaken by events (my surgery, Gregg's cancer). So today was prime day.
I decided that instead of taking Ray to daycare, I would go across the street and bring Maddie over to keep Ray occupied. I didn't know if this would work or not, because Maddie is more like Ray's older sister than a fun friend but I figured it was worth a try.
Ray is always excited to have visitors and he tried everything he could to get Maddie to play (which, granted, is not much). He picked up a stuffed animal and shook it around. No reaction. He picked up his bone and carried it around the coffee table. No reaction. He dropped his bone in front of her. No reaction.
I was feeling kinda bad for my blind hound but I had work to do so I headed to the garage to collect my supplies. Maddie followed. So did Ray.
So trailed by two dogs now instead of just one, I carried my supplies upstairs. Maddie positioned herself in the place that she thought she would be the most useful. Ray, still with the bone in his mouth, stood in front of her, just in case she was going to change her mind and play with him.

I explained to Maddie that maybe the stairs would be more comfortable for her than the hardwood floor. She took this piece of advice well and moved a foot to her left. Ray gave up and headed downstairs.
Then a minute later returned (still with bone) to see if she had changed her mind. She hadn't.

Ray headed back downstairs, dropped his bone and turned around to come back up. But by this time Maddie had moved to the landing and taken control of the staircase. Ray stood on the bottom stairs and whined.

"Come on up, Ray," I said to the blind dog, "Maddie's not going to do anything to you."
Maddie did not move and neither did Ray. And although Maddie had never done anything to him, Ray was not convinced that she wouldn't. After standing and whining for about five minutes, Ray turned and disappeared into the house. I gave him a couple of minutes, then, followed by Queen of the Stairwell, went in search of the big chicken. He was curled up in a little ball on his favorite pillow, on his favorite couch. I patted the other end of the couch, Maddie jumped up and companionably settled herself in for a little nap. I went upstairs to paint. It wasn't quite what I had in mind when I brought over another dog to keep Ray occupied but the results were the same.
zzzzzzzzzzz

The Cat/Dog Saga Continues


It's kind of strange, but Ray can't seem to distinguish the Moonie that sits on the bed from the Moonie that walks around on the ground. Lately, whenever Ray follows me into the cat room, he makes a beeline for the bed (or for the cat food which is highly discouraged) so that he can nuzzle Moonie and give her a quick lick. This week, Moonie actually tried to rub her face on his snout, but Ray moved his head at the last second and she missed. After that, I was feeling particularly hopeful that we were in the final stages of the cat/dog relationship.
Moon Pie

However, whenever Moonie is on the ground, Ray just wants to chase 'it'. I don't think he can tell that it's his good friend, Moonie. He always starts the same way. He kind of leaps out with his front feet like he's trying to catch something, then (when there is nothing there) he taps around with his front feet a bit to see if he can feel 'it' - kind of like a blind man with a white cane. Then he rushes around trying to catch the scent. By this time, Moonie is usually up on something watching him like he's a total lunatic and I can see rethinking her friendship with the strange giant.

Hugo, on the other hand, still hates the dog with a white-hot passion. I have given up any slight hope that I ever harbored for the Hugo/Ray relationship. I've always felt that the best I could hope for was that Hugo would cease to be afraid of Ray and I think Hugo is getting there. Ray is gaining a bit of respect for Hugo ('s claws) and pretty much leaves him alone. (I say 'pretty much' because Ray will still chase Hugo up the stairs whenever he can - I think he thinks they are playing). The look on Ray's face every time Hugo spits at him is total surprise mixed with a lot of confusion. A look of "What the hell was THAT?" It is pretty hysterical but I always stop those encounters before Ray can find out exactly what that was.
Hugo

Hugo is starting to come downstairs more and will lounge in the hallway while Ray is sleeping on the couch or a chair. My hope is that Hugo will get comfortable enough to sit on my lap again while I drink coffee in the morning. But I'm not holding my breath. It's been almost three years and we are only now seeing a thaw in the Cold War.
Ray T.B.D.