Friday, February 03, 2006

Butch - Part IV

It’s been nearly six months now since Butch’s eye surgery, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the way things have turned out. Who knew his life as a blind dog would be so normal?

Only a day or two after coming home from surgery, Butch jumped onto the sofa.. I fretted that he would fall, but he just rested awhile and then eased himself back to the floor. Now he jumps on and off of the sofa all the time and sleeps wherever he wants.

He still bumps into things every now and then, especially when he first wakes up (I, myself, am disoriented under those conditions and have been known to bump into walls). It hurts to see him bump his nose, but he takes it in stride, just corrects his course and goes on about his business.

And he has a lot of business. There are quite a few dogs in the neighborhood, and Butch monitors their behavior and their barking very closely. Many times he will grab my hand in his mouth and "grrrff" to signal that he needs to go outside–now! And when I open the back door, he crouches down into his best "let’s-play-attack-dog" position and runs hard, down the step, around the patio furniture and out into the yard, snarling and barking, in the direction of the offending neighbor dog. Somehow he manages to stop just inches short of the fence.

If Butch has been outside for a while, or if he’s been running, he may lose track of exactly where he is. It isn’t a problem, though. He has landmarks. He walks the fence line, or he heads across the middle of the yard until his feet touch the stepping stones or until he can smell the bird feeder or the gardenia bush, and then he turns toward the house, makes his way to the back door and scratches to be let in. If the door is already being held open for him, he doesn’t stop, just turns at exactly the right place, steps up the step and into the house without ever touching the doorframe.

We still try to be vigilant about keeping all the furniture in exactly the same place and keeping other obstacles out of his path, but with three other dogs around most of the time, dog toys get left where they shouldn’t be. Butch doesn’t sweat it.

The biggest obstacle test came a few weeks after his surgery, when Hurricane Rita brought my East Texas relatives over for a week or so. We had a house full of people, six extra adults, three extra kids, two extra dogs and a guinea pig, and luggage and air mattresses all over the floor. Kadi, my yellow lab, was stressed about the mess, but Butch had the time of his life. One of the kids was a two-year-old, and he and Butch must have walked a hundred miles through my house that week, each on the opposite end of a tug toy, one giggling and the other wagging his tail. Another visitor, my 10-year-old grand-nephew, fought boredom by playing hide and seek with Butch. The boy would hide, and Butch, wagging his tail enthusiastically, would always find him.

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to say thanks for posting about Butch (came here via your post on Fussy). Our 10-yr. old lab mix, Indy, is slowly going blind from diabetes, and we've been fascinated by how little it's slowed her down so far. You and your family rock for dealing so compassionately (and humorously - why not? It doesn't hurt the dog's feelings and can really help their humans cope) with Butch's situation. Salud, Butch!

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