Friday, May 30, 2014


It was a grey, drizzly morning, and it was early. Ray was sleeping in Gregg's chair, the cats were pacing, waiting for me to open the dog door, and I was sitting on the couch choosing random photos to post to the blog.
Without warning, Ray leapt from his chair and trotted into the kitchen. Thinking that it was a little odd that he needed to go outside immediately after eating breakfast, I got up and went to slide open the dog door. Immobile, Ray stayed standing in front of the kitchen door, the cats, however, happily disappeared through the escape hatch.
I sighed. All that money spent on the large-undisclosed-amount-of-money-dog-door-project and here I was expected to act as Ray's majordomo. I opened the kitchen door for the hound and stepped back.
"After you," I said to the big dog sarcastically.
Ray stepped to the opening and stuck his head out, ears deployed in Dumbo mode "looking" to the back fence. He didn't move. I felt the hair on the back of my neck prickle. I could count on one hand the number of times that Ray wouldn't go out without backup. I went to get my shoes. The dog waited for me, unwilling to go past the threshold without someone to cover him.
As soon as I walked through the door, Ray was with me. He stayed nearby for a few steps, then charged to the fence, the hair on his neck standing at attention. I looked around the yard but didn't see anything out of the ordinary, so walked to the bench situated toward the rear of the yard, climbed up, and peered over the fence into the yard behind. Nothing unusual there either.
Ray let loose with a couple of yells. Not his usual generic yell or his "I found something" yell, but the one he uses when there is a warning coming down the pike. I heard dogs down the block pick up the cue and send it on. The dog telegraph was working well.
"Good job, Ray," I congratulated my hound, "Let's go inside."
His duty carried out, Ray immediately turned from the fence and returned to the house.
I had no idea what was lurking in the early morning grey, but I felt well-protected. Even if I did have to provide back-up to my own blind bodyguard.

And now for the photos that I was going to post...

And then I said to her,
"But I don't want to get off of the flowers, just leave me alone."

Waiting for Godot

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down
Excuse me.
Would you mind very much removing the straw from my face?
(taken at the Sheep and Wool Festival)

Juno, legendary bug hunter
If you listen hard enough, couches talk to you.

Dreaming of Stinking Bishop cheese

Hey Juno, you know that's only the BOX for the door, right?

Magic trick.
Watch Harvey...

…turn into Ray


Harvey on his cloud.

Doggy Beefcake
Kitty Cheesecake 

Rainy day
Rainy day
Rainy day

Almost done. Just give me a second and I'll have this out.

Well, that was exhausting!

On the trail...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Caught in the Act

Oddly, some of the flowers looked like they were a lot flatter than the others. I thought they needed water. Turns out they just needed to not be laid on by a cat.
Juno, you better move or mom's going to be mad!
I'm over here dog.
Sheesh. What is wrong with him?
Lalalalalala.  I can't hear youuuu.

Lalalalalalalalalalalala. Geez these flowers feel good.

OH, uh, HI. I was just...uh...just…uh…uh…passing through.
Yeah, just passing through. I'll move along now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I was dreaming.

A man was offering me a job to help his wife unpack their household goods. He gave me an address in a place I didn't recognize. I wanted to look it up before I committed, so I searched in my bag for a bit of paper, found it and a pencil, then said:
"How 'bout I call you and let you know. Can you give me your phone number please?"

As the man rattled off his digits, I wrote them down. Six digits into the ten digit phone number, a dog yelled.

"I'm sorry, I didn't get the last four numbers. Could you repeat them please?" I asked apologetically.
As the man repeated the last four numbers, a dog yelled.

"I'm terribly sorry, I couldn't hear them over the dog. Could you tell me one more time?" I asked contritely.

One more time the man repeated the last four numbers. A dog yelled.

Terribly embarrassed, I once again asked the man to repeat his phone number. A dog yelled over the repetition of numbers.

Babbling now, and trying to explain about hounds, I once again asked the man to repeat his phone number. Without losing any patience, the man did so.

Becoming more incoherent by the second, I asked again and again for the man's phone number only to have the last four digits drowned out by a yelling hound.

Finally, I woke up. Not too surprisingly, Ray was yelling.

Only sleep deprivation can make me sleep through Ray's noise. He's been waking me up every night for weeks now. Based on the presence of fox poop in our back yard and on the sidewalk out front, I deduce we have a fox in the 'hood. Despite the fact that we've been sleeping with all the windows closed, Ray knows when Monsieur Reynard arrives and he wants us to know too.

I have been SO tempted to let him out to chase the fox away but for two things:

  1. M. Reynard arrives between midnight and four in the morning. Our neighbors would NOT be pleased.
  2. Rabies  

Look, you just have to let me out once and, I promise,
that fox will never come back.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Laser Treatment

"I love this dog," said Joann, the vet tech as she handed me Ray's leash then bent over to rub Ray's ears.
Ray had just completed his third laser treatment for arthritis. He had showed improvement after the second one so I was feeling very hopeful as I had handed him over for his third. 
"Did he lay down for you?" I inquired, smiling as I always do when someone tells me they love my dog. 
"He laid down and then he raised his leg and gave it to me for treatment," said Joann shaking her head in disbelief.
Rosemary, the receptionist, grinned and said, "Next time he'll do it himself. He'll just take the thing and tell you 'Here, I'll take care of it, you just go about your business.'"
We all laughed.
Ray stood stoically, waiting to go. It was a beautiful day and he had things to do. 

Later, I'm going to take Ana for a ride in my Sopwith Camel.
(Ray with the vet tech at his second treatment)
Doing his after-treatment things.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Morning Musings

Sometimes, if I'm up really early, I'll check my blog to see if anyone has left a comment, then go back a year or two to the same timeframe and read what was happening in the blind dog's life. Last year at this time, I wrote about a trip to the vet'sMurphy getting a new brother, and Ray's associating the opening of the cellular shade with the presence of Hugo. It occurred to me, while I was reading, just how much has changed in the last year and also just how much has remained the same.

While change is, of course, inevitable, some changes are heartbreaking. Hugo's passing falls under that category as does, to a lesser extent, the fact that we haven't seen Murphy since she adopted a new brother. We've seen Murphy's mom but not Murphy or her brother, Browning.

Part of the reason for this lack of contact is I can't seem to figure out how to introduce Ray to Browning. One lesson I've learned while walking Ray is that meeting a pair of dogs creates a whole different dynamic than meeting just one. Ray and I have learned to be a bit more wary when meet and greets occur with two dogs that live together. Add to that the problem of Browning not being raised around the blind dog. Unlike Murphy, he won't be used to a dog that will randomly run into him (tends to cause fights). So, while we would like to see Murphy again, we're not sure what to do about the new brother. It's been a year though, we need to figure it out (please consider the comments section as a suggestion box).

Under the category of some things remaining the same, this week we were at the vet's. For the last month or so, Ray has been limping on his left foreleg and sometimes, when he gets up from a nap, he is quite hobbled with pain. We took him to the vet when it started and were told that he probably had arthritis but without an x-ray there was no way to tell for sure. We started treating him with a joint-health supplement and an occasional anti-inflammatory but after a month without any noticeable change, took him back to the vet for the x-ray which only confirmed the diagnosis.

The vet told us to continue the supplements (sometimes it can take six weeks before improvement occurs), and we were given information on other pain management options such as laser therapy and acupuncture. After researching both (i.e. checking on cost), we decided to go with the laser therapy.

So this week, Ray had his first treatment; his second is on Friday. It will probably take a few treatments before we see any change (if this option works for him, it doesn't work in every case), but we have high hopes that Ray's pain will be under control in no time.

Another thing that remains the same, Ray still reacts to the sound of the shade being raised or lowered. Even if I accidentally bump the shade and it makes a noise like it could possibly be raised, Ray reacts. He whines, he makes a gargling noise, then he gives a couple of high-pitched shout outs (I must get this on video). It's been ten months now since Hugo went to the land of milk and cat treats but Ray remembers the big black cat. And somehow, in Ray's brain, the raising of the shade will forever be linked to the presence of his unforgotten brother.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mind Games

"Ray, she's eating your food," I said to the dog curled on his favorite chair, "Don't let her eat your food."

Looking only slightly concerned, Ray stared at me. I had just put his dish on the placemat, but Ray was uninterested in eating. He gets that way when the weather turns hot. Juno, however, was more than happy to have a nibble of dog food and had immediately trotted over to see what was for breakfast, her second of the morning.

"Ray, she's eating your breakfast. Aren't you hungry?" I said more urgently this time.

Ray's eyebrows started to dance on his forehead but still he didn't move.

"Oh my gosh, Ray, she's eating the canned food. Don't let her eat your favorite," my voice was increasingly importunate.

Ray's eyebrows were burning a path across his forehead, his ears fully deployed, listening to the sound of Juno licking his food. He could stand it no longer.

The dog heaved himself from his spot and went to loom over the unconcerned cat eating his morning meal. She didn't move. Always polite, Ray waited for her to finish.

I shooed the chubby Dumpling away from his dish so that Ray could get a mouthful of food before Juno finished it off. The hound quickly stepped in before the cat could return. He polished off most of his meal but left a few crunchies in the bowl for his friends.

I smiled and pathetically congratulated myself on being able to outwit a blind dog.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Gift

Gregg and I had just sat down on the front porch to enjoy the stellar mother's day weather when Ray went off.
The hound, who had been in the backyard, was now in the house, yelling. Gregg rose from his barely-sat-in chair with an exasperated sigh and went to investigate.
"What was he yelling at?" I asked my lovely husband when he returned.
"I don't know," replied Gregg, "Harvey was in there too."
Gregg sat. A minute later, the hound went off again, this time using his "I found something" voice.
Concerned that Ray was harassing Harvey, I went to intervene. Ray was standing in front of the mostly-closed, front hall closet bi-fold doors, his head down, his legs somewhat splayed, his ears deployed in ultra-Dumbo mode, his whole body tense with the thrill of the hunt. His nose was working furiously.
A quick glance around revealed no Harvey but I heard a faint 'mew' when I called his name.
Ray gave another innards-disolving yell then returned to snuffling along the bottom of the left-hand door. I folded open the right-hand door and watched Harvey trot out and into the dining room. I grabbed Ray's collar thinking he might try to run after the little cat but Ray totally ignored Harvey. The big dog sniffed again at the bottom of the left-hand door. Ray was still on high-alert, tail up, ears deployed; the nose was working overtime.
Wary now, I looked along the bottom of the door wondering why Harvey had been in the closet and why the dog was ignoring the cat. Ray's nose had settled at the bottom left corner of the door. In the dim light of the hallway, I peered at the spot indicated.
"Gregg!" I yelled doing my best impression of Ray's "I found something" voice. "GREGG!"
"What's wrong?" Gregg asked as he hurried into the house at my panicked call.
"Grab a flashlight," I said, still holding Ray by the collar and pointing to the bottom corner of the door.
Gregg grabbed the take-the-dog-out-at-night flashlight conveniently located on the kitchen counter and came to point its light at the tiny little paw that I had seen poking from between the edge of the bifold and the wall.
"It's a vole," said Gregg, "I'll get my gloves."
"Is it smushed?" I asked Gregg, looking at the flattened body of the rodent jammed into the incredibly small gap between door and wall and thinking perhaps that Gregg had closed the closet door on the tiny visitor when Gregg had come into the house to check on the dog.
"I don't know," said Gregg.
He pushed open the bi-fold and bent over to access the flattened vole. The mouse-sized digger dropped from his hiding place and scurried. Years of experience made Gregg faster. He grabbed it up between two gloved hands and carried the born-under-a-lucky-star rodent from the house to set it free.
I let go of Ray's collar. He snuffled a bit at the bottom of the door then morosely settled down in front of it waiting to see if his new friend was going to return.
I looked at Harvey, still watching us from the dining room.
"You did this, didn't you?" I said to the little cat accusingly.
Harvey flopped over and rolled back and forth in the ecstasy that comes from knowing he had brought me a lovely present for mother's day.
I sighed and went to rejoin Gregg on the porch.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Photo Friday

Wanting to enjoy her new-found freedom, but not liking the rain at all, Juno invented a new way of going outside, but not really.