Sunday, November 9, 2008

The measure of a man dog

Each of the sofas in my living room has three cushions, room for three people to sit comfortably or more than that if they're friendly. I sat on one end, reading quietly, and Kadi lay next to me, her head touching my thigh, and stretched across the second cushion onto the third. Butch decided he wanted to join us.

He stood on the floor at the far end of the sofa, sniffing Kadi's extended feet, then turned his head and shoulders to sniff the arm of the sofa. Then he did it again. Back and forth he went, sniffing Kadi and the sofa arm five or six times before I realized what he was doing: He was carefully measuring his target area.

Satisfied, he stepped to the center of the measured distance, bunched up his hindquarters, leaped up, landed, turned around, lay down, and rested his chin on the arm of the sofa, his feet a few inches away from Kadi's.

It's been a little over three years since Butch lost his eyesight. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but I'm still impressed when he demonstrates his problem-solving skills.

He's a mighty fine dog.

(First published at Velvet Sacks on November 9, 2008.)


SoggyInSeattle said...

Your blog brings back such fond memories (and not a few tears) of my blind dog Ben. He lost his eyesight gradually but it was amazing to watch is deductive reasoning and how he could figure things out. We lost Ben almost three years ago... He had a buddy, Bear, that was a wonderful seeing eye dog for him when he was in unfamiliar territory. We lost Bear this past Oct. Thanks for your blog.

Velvet Sacks said...

Soggy, thank you for visiting Butch's blog and for your kind comment. I think those of us who have enjoyed the company of blind dogs are much richer for the experience.

I'm sorry for your loss of Bear. My Butch and Kadi are 10 and 11 now and it's so difficult to realize that the time we'll have together is limited.

Merlin & MeiMei said...

BRAVO Dear Bruce.
You just keep on running.
We know all about blind dogs and just how marvellous they are.
I'm SO happy that someone saw you for the champion that you are.

"Ice Pony Girl" said...

Butch is beautiful!!! Give him some belly rubs from us.

Snowbrush said...

Our blue heeler, Bonnie, is going blind rapidly. I suppose her cataracts are operable, but when we read about how quiet she would have to be afterward--no barking or exercise for weeks--it sounded like too much to be workable and too sad to put her through. Yet, we feel so terribly guilty knowing we might be able to restore her vision.

I miss the South!

Velvet Sacks said...

Snowbrush, I know very little about post-op care following cataract surgery, so I can't really offer an opinion about whether or not the surgery is advisable. What I can tell you for sure, though, is that a blind dog can have a perfectly wonderful, happy life. A couple of people tried to convince me it was cruel to put Butch through surgery to remove his painful eyes, and I'm so glad I didn't listen to them.

Do you know if cataracts are painful? If so, and you think the cataract surgery wouldn't be feasible for Bonnie, I urge you to discuss enucleation surgery with your vet. Obviously, if the cataract surgery would be manageable, then it would be great for Bonnie to have her eyesight. If that isn't a possibility, then do what you can to minimize any pain and help her to live the best life she can without her vision.

I certainly understand the guilty feelings and the difficulty in making this kind of decision. (Been there, done that.) I wish you could spend half an hour with Butch; it would make you feel SO much better about the outlook for Bonnie's future.

Good luck, whatever you decide. You'll be in my thoughts.

Snowbrush said...

Oh, you replied. I was afraid you were long gone from your blog.

PLEASE do list "blind dogs" under interests on your profile page. You have a wonderful site, and it will enable people to find you simply by clicking on the words "blind dogs." Currently, there are four people who can be found that way.

No, cataracts aren't at all painful.

Thank you for your concern.

Snowbrush said...

Me again. Bonnie has been blind a bit more than a year now, and I'm most impressed that she never throws a tantrum when she runs nose-first into thing after thing after thing, especially when she first wakes up.

Velvet Sacks said...

Snowbrush, it's good to see you again, and I'm not surprised at all that Bonnie is doing so well. Butch has whacked his nose hard enough to make him sneeze a time or two, but mostly when he bumps, he just corrects course and goes about his business. I admire the spirit of these dogs SO much!

Snowbrush said...

"Butch has whacked his nose hard enough to make him sneeze"

Bonnie too. She has even knocked herself flat, but she still loves to play fetch, albeit in a small room rather than across prairies and up and down overgrown mountainsides.