The Remains of the Day

Pardon my completely off-topic (not animal related) post, but these logs have called to me many times while out walking Bodhi. There used to be a bunch of trees in this field and they were all recently chopped down. I don’t know if there was a tree-illness going around or what, but this is all that remains of the trees.

 

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Sam

Last week fifteen wonderful volunteers gathered and gave the Derry Township Community Cats cat house (yes, we call it the cat house) a spring cleaning. Just in time for our newest short-term resident to check in. Meet Sam.

Sam was being fed by a kindly caretaker who noticed he wasn’t very well, and she did a wonderful job of trapping him. DTCC doesn’t generally care for sick cats (though I wish we had the finances to do so!) but when cats come in as part of a TNR trapping week and they’re ill, they hit the jackpot. This poor guy came in last night, and we settled him in the sparkling clean cat house overnight, and then got him to our amazing vet this morning.

I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find out that he is FIV+. You can hear him breathing from the other side of the room, and when the vet looked in his mouth today it was full of lesions, even on his tongue. No wonder the poor guy can’t eat kibble. He hasn’t groomed himself in a very long time (due to the lesions, no doubt) so he stinks and is matted all over. Ear mites galore, and who knows what internal parasites. And the guy is intact, which probably means he was out fighting and got the FIV that way.

Luckily, he’s a sweet guy, as you can sort of tell from his photo taken at the vet’s office. He’s Mr. Mellow, and didn’t even mind being trapped…just kept eating the canned food at the back of the trap (our super duper trapping food – shrimp and fish…who is going to turn down that meal?) He’s very happy to eat canned food, and even ate a whole can at the vet’s office. (What cat does that??)

So, first things first for the guy. We can’t deal with any kind of surgery (neutering and cleaning him up) until his congestion is a good bit better, so he’s on an antibiotic for a couple weeks to see if we can help with that and the lesions. Some Revolution to deal with some internal parasites and ear mites, plus some ear mite medicine to help him be more comfortable. And all the food he wants to eat.

He’s got our king-sized dog crate for now, right next to the window so he can watch what’s going on outside. Lots of fleece to sleep in, and room service for litter, food, and water twice daily. And a nice warm and sparkly clean cat house to hang out in. And that’s a whole lot better than living outside for this guy. He won’t be going back out. I’m not sure where he will land yet, and that may depend on how well he responds to treatment. But one way or another his outdoor days are done. Welcome to the cat house, Sam. Enjoy your stay.

The Bodhi Chronicles: Trust

“How long have you had Bodhi?” a dog trainer friend of mine asked today. I was surprised to realize Bodhi’s been with us probably ten months or thereabouts. Seems like yesterday and forever at the same time. From the time I saw a Facebook post about him – a blind dog that needed a new home – to visiting him in foster care to here, today, has been an amazing ride. “He’s a lucky dog,” my friend said. “We’re the lucky ones,” I told her.

When Bodhi first joined us he appeared to have had a life of what our vet surmises was “crushing boredom.” A young dog, born blind, with calluses on his legs, ones you’d expect to see on a senior dog who slept most of the time. I started trying to train Bodhi but what he needed at that time was to just have a life for a change. He was a well-behaved dog anyway…training could wait.

He’s still a well-behaved dog, but I wanted to be able to walk him just a little bit easier, and Marley and I want to be able to take him to the patios of coffee shops, and walks in new places, and let him enjoy his world. A trainer out in Sacramento who has worked with blind dogs recommended bells, and Bodhi gets the bells. But I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with them, so asked a dog trainer friend of mine to spend some time with us, tell me what she saw, make suggestions. We had a wonderful session with her today, and came away affirmed in the steps we’ve taken and full of great additional ideas for building on our basics. Bodhi had a blast and came home tired and happy, utterly trashed actually, and is sleeping it off.

But I realized something I hadn’t noticed before. Bodhi trusts us. When he first came to us, when he walked he extended his front legs a good distance in front of his body, checking for anything that might trip him up. As I walked him today I realized he doesn’t do that anymore. He seems to trust that we – at the other end of the leash – will keep him from slamming into trees and falling off curbs, and mostly we do. (You cannot zone out while walking a blind dog!)

Bodhi also trusts us enough to run when we help him. He never runs in open spaces. He seems to know that holes in the lawn, or branches in his path and any number of other obstacles could equal a broken leg in no time. But when we take him to a safe field near our house, one he’s come to know, he will run if we ring the bells and call him. Seeing him run, full throttle, is such a joy. You can see the utter happiness on his face. He trusts that we wouldn’t call him across terrain that is dangerous for him.

The progress Bodhi has made in just ten months…the amount we have learned about giving a blind dog a good life…amazes me. When I saw that first Facebook post about a blind dog who had been surrendered to a vet I felt sorry for him, and wanted to help. In the long run, Bodhi never needed any pity, just a good place to call home and the chance to have a real, active, fun life. In exchange he loves the daylights out of us, and apparently trusts us too. It is hard to imagine that you could ask much more from a dog, and why would you want to anyway?

Bodhi in the Snow, cont.

I had to do a little playing with one of Bodhi’s snow shots. Seemed like there was more to do with it, and there’s probably even more if I knew more about Photoshop, but I’m learning. (I erased his leash, how’s that?!) For those of you who don’t know, Bodhi is blind, which is why his eyes look odd here. His eyes are just a blank slate, so they look a little unusual in photographs. Weird eyes aside, you can still tell the boy was having fun!

First version and then my new one below it.