Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The End

When I was a kid I loved books about animals. Mainly dogs and horses. If there was a book with a dog or a horse as a main character, I was ON it. I can't actually remember ever reading anything else. But there was always one fatal flaw (literally) with these books. The main character always died at the end. So as I got older, I avoided these books like the plague. It's hard enough watching your own animals die without reading about someone else's pet doing it too.

So when I started Ray's blog I knew that I wanted his story to end differently. I didn't want it to end with a deathbed scene. I wanted Ray's friends to believe that this wonderful dog went on for all eternity licking babies, playing with cats, yelling at things, laying in the sun, taking long walks through the woods, meeting other dogs and making friends everywhere. I wanted Ray to be remembered the way he was through his whole life, a fun-loving, happy, resilient, normal dog who just happened to be blind.

Ray isn't gone yet but he has been diagnosed with something bad. You won't know when he dies because I am not going to tell you. But if, one day, you feel a slight cosmic shift in the universe, it might be because Ray's amazing soul has left this earthly plane for a better place. Somewhere soft with no hard edges, where the sun always shines, there are no baths, babies are everywhere, the food is always treats, and where Moonie, Hugo, and Harvey are waiting for him at the end of a rainbow.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Coming out of the Closet

Ray was in the hall closet. An 'oh, shit' feeling came over me.

I had been upstairs sewing when the doghorn had sounded (even though the sound is vastly diminished, it is still not something one can ignore.) Then there had been sounds of muffled crashing, and hangers clanging. I knew that doghorn+crashing+hangers meant only one thing: Lionel had deposited another chipmunk (or mousie) in the house(ie) for his friend to play with. The cat was nowhere to be seen which was a good thing, but Ray's butt and enthusiastically wagging tail sticking out of the closet were a dead giveaway as to the location of the errant rodent.

I corralled the dog in the bathroom, propped open the front door, and started removing things from the closet floor. A chipmunk was wedged between a piece of foam that Lionel liked to sleep on and the wall. He looked vaguely familiar. He's been here before, I thought to myself. I grabbed an umbrella and gave him a gentle poke. Obviously knowing his way out, the chipmunk sauntered to the front door. I followed, closed it behind him, and let Ray out of the lock-up.

He's not in here, Ray. He must have gotten away.
Are you sure, Lionel?
Maybe, he's back here.

I really think he might be back here.

Nope. You were right. He's not there.
Oh, Juno, you should have been there. There was this chipmunk
 in the closet. It was so great.

Friday, June 15, 2018


These days, taking Ray for a walk is all about analysis: How far do I think he can go without laying down for a rest? If he starts out a good clip, is he feeling strong enough to go whatever distance he has decided on in his dog-brain? If the sun comes out, how will that affect his performance? If he finds a really nice lawn, will he pass it or take advantage of its lofty cushiness? There are just so many things to consider and no way to really know the answer until it is too late.

This morning Ray started out strong, at the top of his form, I would have said. He went about three quarters of a mile, then showed good sense by stopping and turning around to go home. Unfortunately he didn't get far before he found one of those lofty-cushy lawns upon which he crashed. To my good fortune, the house in front of which Ray had crashed just happened to have a Little Free Library set up along the sidewalk. While he rested in a cool breeze on his shady lawn, I perused the books. Ironically, there was a book entitled "How to Teach Your Old Dog New Tricks". I unlatched the little door and slid the book out of the little house.

Before I had a chance to even turn a page, Ray was on his feet and ready to go. He knew exactly what I had in my hand and there was no way he was going to let me teach him anything. I put the book back. I could tell from the tag lines on the cover that it wasn't the book for me. There was nothing about how to keep a dog from laying down on a cushy lawn in the shade when a cool breeze was blowing. And I really couldn't imagine what I would do with a Ray-spit-impregnated tissue after I had taught him to extract one from a box.

New tricks? Puh-leeeeze. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Lately, I've been missing the blog. I think it's probably because it pops up on my Facebook page as a "Memory." I used to just ignore the "memories" but recently I've been re-reading them and I have to say it has been kind of fun.

There are not many days that go by that I don't have something to blog about, but I tend to ignore the urge to write because I've gone back to having a life. Ray is an old dog now and sleeps more than anything else. But still, there are stories that need to be told and this is one of them:

Last October as I was driving south to attend the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, I called Ray's foster mom, Amber. Amber tends to call me when she is on long drives and now I know why. It turns out this is an excellent way to kill time when on a long drive alone. As we were chatting, Amber excitedly told me that her niece had won a major marathon.
"She lives up in your area," said Amber naming the place in Northern Virginia in which we live.
"Really?" I replied. "Where?"
"I have no idea," said Amber.

After I returned home, the story of Amber's niece came to mind. I looked her up.  She lives in our neighborhood and is on one of our less-traveled walking routes. (Now that he is an old dog Ray always picks our walking route: some days he still wants to go 2-3 miles, others he just wants an amble around the block.)

A couple of months later, Ray decided that this was the day to take the road less-traveled. We were crossing the street at an intersection with a cul-de-sac when Ray's nose shot straight up into the air. Usually he does this when a fox is nearby. I waited for the yelling to commence but instead, Ray's head whipped around. He made me look. A tall, thin woman in exercise togs had exited a car and was just entering a house. The door closed behind her. Ray hesitated a moment then continued on.

When we returned home, I looked up the address. It was the home of Amber's niece.

Last week, Ray took me on the same route. When we got to Amber's niece's house, Ray stopped dead and started to cross the lawn to the front door. I put the brake on the leash and pulled.
"We don't know her, Ray," I told the hound (he had never met her).  "We can't just go up to a complete stranger's house because you smell a family resemblance."

Ray was insistent. I walked up to him, grabbed the handle on his harness and dragged him away. I compelled my dog to the sidewalk where he convinced me that really he just wanted to walk around the cul-de-sac, that he'd never been that way before, that really it was very interesting, and that he thought we really should go. So we did. As soon as we arrived opposite, Ray crossed the street back to Amber's niece's house. I hesitated briefly, thinking about it, then once again grabbed Ray by the handle and wrestled him down the street.

Ray was done. If he couldn't visit his foster mother's niece, he wanted to go home.

So, if anyone EVER had any question and needed proof that dogs can smell DNA, here it is, incontrovertible proof, served up on a platter, and provided by yours truly, Ray the Blind Dog.

I can't believe you wouldn't let me visit
my favorite person that I've never met.