I used to have a Blind Deaf Dog

A friend of mine dubbed her the “Helen Keller Dog”.  Molly was born deaf and with progressively bad eyesight.  In the last years of her life she was probably entirely blind.029

This is of course where you sigh, feel bad, look at me like I’m the the Mother Teresa of Pets.  I’m not.  And she would have had no idea why you feel bad.  She didn’t.

For the most part, she cheerfully bounded through life, banging into furniture, falling down steps and and poking her eyes on low hanging branches.   You see she thought that was how life worked.  It would never occur to her that it worked in any other way.  Happily, she couldn’t even see other animals navigating through life without mishaps.

Life was not always glorious for her.   She didn’t always get along well with other dogs.  I think because dogs use visual cues when meeting.  She never learned those cues and so didn’t present her intentions quite right .  She certainly couldn’t read them in others. Because sight was of such limited support to her, anything visual would have small meaning as a filter for her view of the world.  Touch was a huge thing to her.

Because she had repeated bad encounters with other dogs reading her wrong, she became tense and easily over reacted to a touch she thought might turn violent with another dog.

She was the easiest dog I ever owned.  She was an Australian Shepherd.  A small one.  I guess people call them mini.  Aussies are SMART dogs.  They also want to please you.  It took two times MAX to teach her a behavior.  She knew that different people used different signals for behaviors.  She responded to all of them.  All of them were touches.

She loved touch.  She wanted to hug and be hugged.  She had a bit of a  habit of climbing half onto your lap for a cuddle.  She also liked to put her paws in your hands when she greeted you.  But she NEVER did that to my mother, who was fragile and had skin like paper.  She always just nosed her under the hand for attention or nosed her knee in greeting.

I used to leave the door open so the cat could come in and out when I was gardening.  She would NOT leave the house unless I invited her to.

On the other hand – she was an absolute nightmare about getting her nails cut or being held down in any fashion at all.  I don’t know what happened to her before I rescued her, but it was awful.  But… as much as she would struggle and flail in fear, she would NEVER growl or snap.  She was always ultimately kind and gentle to people, even at the vets office.

In the end, she and I worked out a barely tolerable system for brushing her and doing her nails, but we both were frustrated and upset at the end of each session.

She was the best dog I ever had.  Its frustrating having a dog that can’t hear.  More so than one that can’t see.  Because we communicate so much through our voice.  I talk to my animals a lot.  I talked constantly to her even though she couldn’t hear me.

Molly was good.  She bounded through life oblivious of obstacles, cheerful and loyal.  I didn’t deserve her.

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