Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Four senses will do

Living with sensory-impaired animals is interesting—there's so much to notice in how capable they are, and how much they achieve with the senses they do have.

Paisley, our deaf Aussie (2002-2013), used to go into the master bedroom of our apartment on Billy Frank Jr. Blvd. at about four every summer afternoon to watch the ceiling. It confused me at first, until I stayed with him and saw what he saw—a glint of light like a flare slashing across the ceiling, signaling that the chrome bumper of Matt's truck had caught the light as it turned the corner toward our driveway. Master was returning.

Brodie, my Labrador mix, is blind. He lost 100% of his vision in one eye and most of his vision in the other due to complications of diabetes this winter. He sees a little bit of light and shadow, it seems. He gets around fine, and you could almost forget he was vision-impaired if it weren't for the occasional "walk straight into a bush" or "run joyfully to greet the spot 10 inches left of me" moments. When I took him to the home of his petsitter for a pre-trip safety check, we realized the extent of the danger when he nearly took a header off the second story deck, with its widely spaced stiles harking back to an era when small people could plummet to their deaths without anyone being sued. That deck has been off limits to him since.

When it comes to recognizing people, places, and subtle emotional states, Brodie probably achieves more with his nose than I can achieve with my eyes, ears, and nose together. He knows when my boyfriend F is not in the bed, and hops up to take his place next to me.

F and I sleep well together, sometimes holding hands all night long. He's been away this week, and although the dogs are good companionship they can't take his place. Apparently I sense his absence in my sleep, and reach for him. I keep being awakened in the night by the rough feeling of paws pulling away from my grasp—seems holding hands with the dogs as we sleep is more soothing to me than to them. They associate paw holds with claw trimming, something Brodie is downright phobic about.

We all miss F and want him home. We'll be watching for him, though I think blind Brodie may see him coming before I do!


  1. Marnie, it's so good that you're writing again. And I'm so happy for you that you have a special human to share your life with!


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