“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?