Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Walk the Dog

Ok, so I know that not all of you have dogs, and in fact, even less of you have a blind dog. And in fact, even less of you have a deaf dog, and probably none of you has a blind and deaf dog.

So I'm writing this post purely for your entertainment, as it were.

My dog, my Smashy dog, is 11 years old and in wonderful health. His lungs are clear, his heart is strong, and he's smart as a whip. When he can hear you, that is. You see, our Buddy is almost completely deaf. The only way he can hear is if you bend down right next to his ear to talk to him. He can't hear someone calling him across the house or out in the yard, he can't hear whistling or lip smacking kissy noises. He can't hear the doorbell or the garage door open, he can't hear other dogs barking or his food niblets clinking into his dish. These are all things we've had to work around.

We taught him sign language for the basic commands of sit, stay, lie down, and come. And then he went blind. First the right eye and now the left. He has some (read: very little) sight still in his left eye. Of which has recently scratched the cornea. Insert obnoxious audible sigh here.

Aside from the daily difficulties of banging my shins on his baseball head in the hallway because he can't see me coming, and having him run in from the back yard at night soaking wet because he couldn't find his way out of the sprinklers, there's the challenge of walking a now deaf and blind dog.

Although it could be funny to watch him stumble over stones in yards and fall into the deeper edging that some people do around their lawns it seems more tragic than hilarious. He'll step on a random stick that has fallen out of a tree and it will pop up on the other side and smack him the face. If I switch sides with him he'll look around in a panic until I come up alongside him so he can see me...or rather, the shape of me.

So how does one walk a deaf and blind dog? I don't know exactly. I'm hoping to establish a route that we take every single time so he gets used to the turns and terrain. I try to stay on the street side of him so there's no chance of him accidentally stepping off the curb and breaking a leg. I keep him out of corner gardens so as to minimize stumbling and sticks-in-the-face. But, ok, I will let him walk obliviously through a sprinkler or two.

You can laugh. It's ok. I laugh at him, too. He's a dog, right? He doesn't feel bad for himself of think that his life sucks like we would. He doesn't have pity parties or lay around depressed all day. He still does "Smashy" to the best of his disabilities.

Buddy Dee. On his favorite Red Couch.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I'm really not looking forward to the day when my wife and I have this happen with our beagle. I can only hope he'll start losing his sense of smell first!

But like you said it's a fact of life and dogs aren't like humans in the way they process things. they're always rolling with whatever happens, and don't complain because they can't. I just imagine a bunch of old dogs sitting playing cards in a barber shop, complaining about arthritis or enlarged prostates. Just can't happen.

And I'm sort of glad for that. We look at our dog as a sort of furry toddler that'll never grow up or learn much of the language.