Thursday, January 31, 2008

Love is blind

I just got back into the house, settled into my chair (see how Kev's recliner has now become my chair...) with a nice cold glass of water. I worked up a sweat taking a walk outside with Kevin. Since there's ice under the snow everywhere, it was potentially treacherous, but Kev hung onto me like I was his 98-year-old granny. Truth be told, it made me feel more comfortable. Wearing that big neck collar limits my view, and I'm not supposed to be moving my neck to look down (or up or sideways).

But oh my heck! it was nice to get outside. We basically took a walk from the house to the pole barn, where I let Barney and Betty out so they could romp around with Reilly, then over to our outside wood stove so that Kev could load it, then up the back trail around the other side of the house back around to the pole barn to put Barney and Betty back into their run. No, it's not that long of a walk around our house, but it sure tuckered me out. I've only been doing a little walking here and there the past 2 weeks (2 weeks ago since surgery! 2 down, about 4 to go to hopefully resume to normal life!).

Barney is so funny... the poor brute is totally blind now, but he's still pretty much as enthusiastic as ever. Kev was really watching him so that he didn't knock into me or knock me over. Barney brought sticks to me 3 times, but when I throw them, he has no clue where to head out to retrieve them until he hears Reilly going... and then, of course, it's way too late. But I was also feeling very sad for him a couple of times. His blindness combined with his lifelong fear of ice gave poor Barney a few moments of not knowing where to step and of being afraid... When we were walking in front of the house on the way back to the pole barn, I heard him whimpering behind us... he had apparently stepped on a patch of ice under the snow and it scared him. Kev called to him and told him it was ok, and Barney was able to continue forward, but he was doing a type of walk that was in between walking upright & normal and walking belly to the ground.

When we reached the cement approach to the pole barn garage, Barney wouldn't walk on the cement. He knows it has patches of ice on it. The dog run is on the side of the pole barn, and Barney went all the way around and finally scooted next to and along the dog run fencing so as to get back into the dog run with as few steps as possible actually on the cement. Once in the dog run, he was a happy, happy camper. Definitely in his comfort zone.

Barney is way too young to be blind; he's only about 5 years old. I believe it must be a genetic thing. Other than his blindness, he's one huge, handsome yellow lab. Joycie's boyfriend, Mike, was asking her about breeding his family's lab with Barney, but I won't let that happen. Kevin never had Barney neutered; I think because Kev was thinking if Barney was a great hunting dog, we may want to have one day gotten a puppy from him... continue the line, so to speak.

But no on both counts. He's not a good hunting dog, and he won't be fathering any puppies ever. He's not really a good watchdog, either, he wasn't even before he went blind. Barks at everything and anything, sometimes all night long. But he is a lovable big ol' Barn. He is the sweetest dog, and he will lavish love on us unendingly. Ol' Blind Barney loves Kevin beyond anything else. Barney is a pig for food, but he would choose Kev over a tasty morsel any day... all Kev has to do is that whistle of his or call him and Barney rushes to him. Big floppy ears, happy spittal flying as he jumps on and about Kevin, and you can just hear Barney's "I love you, I love you, I love you." He's a great dog.

So Kev and I are walking down the drive to the pole barn, wrapping up our walk, with Reilly dragging yet another big stick toward Kev (he's always hoping), and Betty trailing along behind us as usual, with Barney doing his half-belly walk thing, big feet splayed out timidly advancing through the ice/snow... and I asked Kev, "So when you have a blind dog, would you get him a leader person?"

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