I See, Said the Blind Man to His Deaf Dog

A Dog Named Turtle

Therapy Dog

Dear Friend

It’s been going on for a few months now, this change in the dog’s behavior.  Several things happened at the same time.  She started sleeping at the side of the bed, right where we roll out.  When we touched her she barked and was indignant.

She began to sleep very soundly throughout the day.

When she was awake she was like a toddler.  If you turned around you could fall over her, and she stood and stared at one of us all of the time.

We attributed the heavy sleeping to old age.  She is, after all, fourteen now.  She has some kidney failure and bad hips and is pretty bony now compared to her prime.  There’s not much to do about her kidneys.  Dog’s kidneys just wear out with age, and she won’t eat the kidney diet food the vet prescribed.  It has the texture and aroma of wallpaper paste.  I'd rather die, too. She has never taken pills, so we have crushed tablets and emptied the contents of capsules into a bit of turkey sausage in order to get her to take them.  She gets relief.

When we were first left the dog she was a beautiful, spayed, seven year old Australian Shepherd/Husky mix.  Her makeup seems more Aussie than Husky, so she is a herder and has strong “pack” affiliation.  We have always been able to open the door and let her out since it’s a couple of blocks to the highway and she won’t wander.  We live in the county, so we’re not breaking any leash laws, and the pit bull next door died.

When we were both younger I walked her twice a day.  Long walks, rain or shine, were the only way to dissipate all of her energy.  Now we are down to one short morning walk. 

She is one of the two really smart dogs that we have had.  The other, early in our marriage, was Gretchen, a German Shepherd/Collie mix.  Both were easy to train, mindful, and family oriented.  They have been bookends in a way.  This will probably be our last dog.

So, the other day I let Turtle out, grabbed her leash off the gate where we hang it, and started up our street.  As she got near a busy intersection I called and she ignored me.  Finally, I used my COMMAND voice, very loudly.  She stopped and came back, not with that guilty look, but with her big smile look.  It was then that I realized she is almost completely deaf.  It broke my heart.  This is one of the most beautifully made creatures ever.  I mourn her lost agility, endurance and energy, but perhaps I look at her and mourn my lost youth, as well.

Turtle in a Late Snow

Her deafness means that I can’t start on our walk without hooking her leash first.  It’s one more loss of freedom for both of us.

My biggest regret is that we didn’t take the lesson of Gretchen to heart.  Over the years we had a succession of hunting breeds - like a setter and a Labrador retriever, a couple of spaniels, and even a German Wirehair Pointer - that all had endearing qualities, but didn’t fit us like the herding breeds have done.

Too soon we grow old, and too late smart.


Views: 133

Comment by alsoknownas on March 8, 2018 at 2:29pm

I don't read anything here that you can be chided for except maybe using words like blind and deaf instead of sight challenged and hearing impaired.

Enjoy the time you have left with her.

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 8, 2018 at 3:27pm

I am legally blind-not visually impaired. The dustunction is technical, not political. I can’t keep up with whether i’m handicapped ior visually challenged. i understand stugma, but with few exceotions i haven’t felt it.

Comment by Foolish Monkey on March 8, 2018 at 5:01pm

What a beauty.   

The damn shame of dogs is they don't talk so they can't tell us what's up with them.  We're always guessing. 

Being we're up there ourselves, when it's time for another dog, I think we're going for a senior dog.  The whole senior dog thing kills me - dogs that live their lives with one family but for one reason or another end up in a shelter.   Poor dogs don't know why.  They're so pack oriented, it's got to be awful for them, and being old - living with all the stress of a shelter.  Anyway, I figure being older myself, and it's always up to me - I'm not up to training another puppy.  I'd rather have a another couch potato and we can practice dozing off together..  

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 9, 2018 at 2:27am

Monkey, we've thought of rescuing an old dog, too.  I don't think we could go through the expense and heartache of watching another dog age and die.

AKA, one day I will learn not to use my phone to comment.  It's too small to see what I'm writing, and using Voice Over to hear each letter spoken is a pain.

I, briefly, thought about the political correctness of the title.  My mother used to say, " 'Oh, I see', said the blind man to his deaf daughter" whenever there was a complete loss of communication.  I would never say that someone was "deaf and dumb" because "dumb" has the second meaning of mentally challenged..  Dumb has been dropped from usage, along with mute, for that meaning, but survives in "dumbfound", a collision of dumb+confound. which I think means to render speechless.

I have had a few instances of attempts to cheat me on change and insults ( "Hey buddy, where's your little tin cup?") in the past 12 years, but they have been rare.  There is no doubt that we are treated differently.  I use a white cane and they seem to turn people off.  Those with service dogs are treated better.  

Fortunately, I was almost to retirement age when I lost my sight so I didn't have to deal with job search and workplace discrimination.  The ADA did a lot for those "otherly abled".

Comment by Foolish Monkey on March 13, 2018 at 12:28pm

Rodney, I understand entirely.  When we lose a dog, and we do and have and will again, it's almost too much to stand.  It IS like losing a child, a most beloved, adoring dependent child.  It's not a failure, but damn it, it feels that way. it's just that they don't live as long as we do...not by a long shot.  But to not have a dog is an impossible thought.  And I can't do the puppy thing again.  My husband feels as you do - he isn't entirely sold on this.  But OTOH perhaps not a senior dog but an elder statespooch, might work for us.  We have two now, there's room for a third.  But the baby - the pinkster monster needs to mature a little more before we subject a new dog to her shameless mechanisations.  

Comment by koshersalaami on March 13, 2018 at 3:01pm

Maybe an adult dog would work. Of the dogs I’ve had, we’ve gotten one not as a small puppy but as a nine-month-old. She’d been placed with an older woman who couldn’t handle her. Not exactly a handful - she was a Golden Retriever. What I found about the experience is that I didn’t bond the same way as I do with a puppy. She was a great dog but she was just a dog to me, and I was her favorite. I was good to her, I liked her, but she wasn’t my baby. 

Comment by Phyllis on March 13, 2018 at 3:29pm

I haven't had a dog since Lance died in Feb 2011, I don't know if I will again. I know I'm expecting a Service Dog but the place has changed management and can't guarantee the promise I was given. 

I think I'm going to go to bed.

Comment by Foolish Monkey on March 13, 2018 at 3:46pm

Oh theyre all my baby - I bond with them all.

My two most beloved dogs were both rescued - petunia faloonia, an american bulldog. Totally and possibly one of the greatest dogs to have ever walked the earth. Got her just as she went into first heat. And Oliver. Two year old boxer with MC cancer. We had him for only a year and a half and we supported and fought for him through chemo and surgery. But what a year and a half that was. Losing him threw me into a terrible depression. But I wouldnt have missed loving him and taking care of him for anything. They were grand dogs. Magnificent. I miss them still. Particularly faloonia. She was my sister. But ollie - a boxer who didn't know how to play (Nearly impossible to imagine if you know boxers) - he was my baby. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on March 14, 2018 at 5:46am

FM, boxers are a paradox to me. They are big, strong, and not particularly smart, but their owners love them. One nearly killed my Dad, but he was upset when it was put down- he thought it was his fault.

i know from my past life as a pathologist that boxers have the highest incidence of cancer of all breeds. Still, people get them.

i am rational about getting a dog, but not about letting them go.

Comment by Foolish Monkey on March 14, 2018 at 8:10am

boxers are like rambunctious children - theyre all about playing and playing and playing and being idiots.  you're so right - they're not especially bright but they are a delight in their way.  dog people see them as the clown breed - more than one is a clown car of energy and mindless nonsense.

my ollie was a dignified boy.  he didn't know how to play but when we brought him home with us, he immediately adopted an old soccer ball that was in the shed and would stand in one spot with it and bark at it.  god, I loved him.  

yes, they have the highest instance of cancer, I belive because they were so inbred.  

letting them go is the worst, absolutely the worst act I've ever had to do.  my petunia did us both a great honor by laying down right next to me, and as I ran my toes through her coat, she suddenly screamed and was gone.  just like that.  I wanted to dig up her bones before we moved but that would have been macabre and we barely had the time to finish packing.  as you might recall, that's all we did - pack for months.  what?  who the hell knows but we had a lot of stuff. so digging up a dog's bones would have been a little nuts.  but within range I still feel, were there the time. 

if I was wealthy, I would clone that girl. without hesitation. 


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