Thursday, June 13, 2013

Four Years

Yep. Four years. It's been four whole years since we brought home the blind, lymph-node impaired hound. I can't believe how much has changed since that first year and how much has remained the same. And as a perfect illustration of 'changed' and 'the same,' I'm sitting here with Moonie on one side and Ray the other (change). Hugo, meanwhile, is glaring at us from the safety of the front hall (the same).
So, as is my custom on the anniversary of Ray's arrival, I recognize the momentous occasion with a list. Below, on the left, is the list that I made on the event of Ray's first anniversary with us. Next to it is the fourth-year update.

First Year Retrospective
Fourth Year Update
Things that have Changed for the Better

  • I have a great dog that makes me laugh at least once a day and makes me feel good (most of the time).
No change
  • I get more exercise.
No change although we get to start later in the morning now that Ray has calmed down.
  • I have met tons and tons of people and I have a lot more fun than I used to. I love going to the dog park. I like walking dogs with the people that I have met in the neighborhood. I like playing with my dog. I enjoy watching him navigate and get into things and roll around and just have fun.
The only thing that has changed here is, Ray and I no longer go to the dog park. There are two reasons for this: One was the random installation of “agility” equipment (aka blind dog booby-traps). The second was Ray’s run-in with Lefty which turned out to be a forecast of things to come as far as the bully breeds go. As Ray enters his prime, he is a lot less tolerant of other dogs than he used to be. 
There’s a big change here. Ray doesn’t like to go to daycare anymore. I attribute this partly to his being spoiled rotten at home and partly to being randomly aggressed by other dogs that we’ve met. He just can’t see it coming and has learned the hard way to be a bit more cautious around other dogs. 
  • Ray mostly leaves us alone during dinner and breakfast now unless we are having something that he really wants, like fish or sausage or ribs or chicken...
Thank God Ray has learned to leave us alone during dinner and breakfast. I still have dog face in my lap sometimes when I eat lunch but I can live with that
It took the large-undisclosed-amount-of-money-dog-door-project, but we don’t have this problem anymore. No more screen door.  
  • Ray doesn't spend lots of time running around the back yard yelling like he did when we first brought him home. I think now that maybe he was trying to locate his pack. He usually only yells when he is excited that we are out in the backyard with him or when we've come home after being out for awhile, or he smells something that he was bred to hunt. Or sometimes he yells at 4:00 in the morning to tell people that all is well (at least that's my take on it).
Ray still yells. He will get up from a dead sleep to run outside with a growl and raised hackles to yell at things we can’t hear or smell. He also yells for important events such as the rolling in of the trash bins, the scooping of the poops, and the 4th of July. If he yells in the middle of the night it’s usually for the fox going through the neighborhood. We have learned to sleep with the windows closed (mostly). 
Things that are Worse

  • My cats are prisoners in their own room. Well, not really, but kinda. Now that it's summer, Hugo spends a lot of time outdoors. Moonie comes down only at night when Ray is asleep. I still miss my cats and I don't see this changing. Whenever I pull Ray up onto my lap, I feel a twinge of regret that my cats don't sit on my lap anymore. But I guess we all made some sacrifices to give a home to a dog that really, really needed one.
Thank God this one is no longer true. Although the cats like having their own room and spend most of their time there, they come out all the time now. Moonie likes Ray, and quite enjoys getting her ears washed by him. However, she doesn’t care to be tripped over which happens frequently. Hugo still hates the dog with a white hot passion but has learned that just because the dog is staring at him, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be chased up the stairs. I mean, sometimes he’s going to be chased up the stairs, but sometimes he isn’t. Hugo is still figuring it all out but at least he isn’t hiding in his room anymore.
  • We live in a tent city. All the furniture in the living room is covered with bedspreads and tablecloths that I have picked up at estate sales. At this point, I'm thinking maybe slip covers might be a good idea.
I’ve stopped draping the couch (my favored sitting spot) and Gregg’s chair. which is still the favorite of both Gregg and Ray. The other, identical chair, which is only ever occupied by the dog when Gregg is home sitting in his own chair, is still draped, but the cover matches the furniture better than the old tablecloths. Truthfully, I don’t know why I continue with the charade that I’m keeping anything clean. 
  • The kitchen trash permanently resides in the bathroom next to it. It's a pain but this is one problem I haven't been able to solve (yet). I'm fairly confident that Ray could figure out how to get into a trashcan with a foot pedal opener and I don't want to spend the money to find out that I'm right.
Something else that was resolved with the large-undisclosed-amount-of-money dog door project. Now in the kitchen, we have a slide out thingy for the trash. Worth EVERY CENT we spent on the project.
Well, we’re still working on this one. The zoysia that I planted almost two months ago is struggling. Zoysia thrives in the heat and the low water conditions and this has been the coolest, wettest spring that we’ve ever had. Of course. 
Things that are Different but not Good or Bad

  • My garden is different. Some plants have died but if I didn't know that they were there before, I wouldn't really miss them. Honestly, I thought the garden looked great this spring. Maybe it's the extra fertilizer, or that the soil is nicely aerated from all the excavation that goes on, or maybe rawhide bones add some missing nutrient to the soil, but really some of the plants are thriving. Others, not so much.
The garden is still morphing. This year, Ray has decided that the pachysandra has got to go and is busily trying to dig up all of it. And he’s doing a pretty good job. It will be interesting to see what he decides to plant in it’s place.
The gate at the bottom of the stairs has been gone awhile. The gate to the laundry room is a permanent fixture. Not because Ray gets into the cat boxes anymore, although he probably would if he could, but we have to keep the dryer sheets safe.


  1. Reading this makes me smile as I know I should be documenting the challenges with Rocky, as hopefully in a few months time what seems daunting and overwhelming now will just become our life as we know it, I am sure taking on Conor and Rocky was partly due to Ray's inspiring video of careering round the dog park, without any concession to his lack of vision, and of course Jean's decision to post it to you tube where I stumbled upon it and felt that nothing is impossible, just go for it !