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: 156

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 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 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 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 Steel Breeze on March 14, 2018 at 8:31am

dogs see us for what we really are,humans,no other distinctions than;good human/bad human.....

Comment by Anna Herrington on March 14, 2018 at 9:26am

I missed this one before....

what a beautiful dog Turtle is! and what a beautiful photo you include too ~ y'all have a lovely place!

I'm experiencing a similar awareness over here with our Kona girl. It's getting more and more obvious she isn't hearing well, or seeing well... while we'd just been saying 'what a crab she's getting to be...'  Now I understand. So tough! But it's also fitting somehow to have our dogs growing older with us...

On adopting older dogs, that's all I do anymore, adopt from the shelter. No puppies. But I stand there for an hour at least and just observe before even going towards a potential dog. I quit choosing my personal choice of dog years ago and now take home whoever seems to need a home fastest that will suit our living situation. We end up loving them to bits and they us. They're SO grateful!!! and eager to please. and loving, loving, loving that they have a new pack to belong to...

Our current 'new' one, is Pip the chihuahua. Ha!!! We are big dog people over here and getting Pip was an anomaly for sure. He was sitting there, 2-3 lbs tops, the tiniest chihuahua I've ever seen, shivering in his cement block 'cell' between pit bulls (also shivering and scared...). He had to come home with us. Took forever to get him civilized, used to our other dog and other people, pretty positive he was abused and a former puppy mill stud, never seemed to have been trained or out of a kennel, even.... so sad, to start. It helped us bond, having to spend so much time with him....

So many dogs are treated poorly, I just had to start taking these guys home to find out what a good place feels like.... today Pip is awesome, a healthy weight, and a great little guy. 

Funny who shows up in your life to go along with you on the journey for awhile...

we humans are so lucky that dogs are there for us, are so willing to take us humans on  : ). 

Give Turtle a 'skritch' for me, what a beauty ~


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