“Do you think we will be able to walk him?” Marley asked when I first proposed going to look at Bodhi (then named Buddy) to maybe adopt. We had never had a blind dog, knew nothing about it, but something about his story drew me.
Bodhi’s original owner died suddenly, and the relatives didn’t want Bodhi, so took him to a local vet to be euthanized, at age four. He wasn’t neutered. He was covered in fleas and he had Lyme disease. The vet had them surrender Bodhi instead, and once cared for medically, he became a Castaway Critter. As soon as I saw mention of him, I contacted my friends at Castaway, and it wasn’t very long before we went to visit Bodhi.
Marley walked Bodhi for awhile at the foster’s house, and that was pretty much it. We loved him from the start, and we went back later that day, after making some preparations at home, to adopt him.
Blind from birth, we set about learning how to help Bodhi, who was the sweetest dog from day 1. But he hadn’t been anywhere or done anything, and was totally over-stimulated by getting to do almost anything. It took about six months for him to go from being a dog who had probably just laid around for four years, to being a dog on the move and happy to be out in the world. He trained up easily once we learned about using bells to help him know where we were and where he could go, and eventually he even took nosework classes (and loved them!).
One of his favorite games in his younger years was to go with us to a large field, and Marley and I each had bells, and we would spread out, and one of us would ring our bells and he would come running to the sound of the bells (and to a treat!) and then to the sound of the bells from the other person. It was one of the ways we could give him some good aerobic exercise. Marley and Bodhi walked all over the place every day – often for up to an hour – and they loved their walks. Bodhi even went on vacation with us a couple times to the beach and he adored the ocean.
Gracie came along a little while after we got Bodhi, and she was a bit of a pill for him when she was a puppy, wanting to play in ways that Bodhi never did understand, but they eventually became friends.
Above all, Bodhi was a daddy’s dog. For many years Bodhi was found on Marley’s lap watching tv with him, his very favorite spot to be.
In the last year or so Bodhi’s health started to decline, as happens to older labs (and the rest of us.) Although blind from birth he developed glaucoma and had to have two emergency surgeries to remove his eyeballs, along with another to remove a penny that he’d swallowed. He also developed progressive neuropathy, so his body was declining slowly. He endured several months of physical therapy with relative grace, which slowed the progression. In just the last week or so, he developed a tumor on his foot, which had to be removed. Then yesterday he developed bloat, a twisted stomach. No one know the cause of this, but dogs with large chests seem to be most prone to it. Surgery is sometimes successful, but not always or even often, and on a dog who is already in decline as much as Bodhi was, surgery was not even a reasonable option. He probably wouldn’t have made it off the table, and recovery would have been hell for him if he had, so we made the decision to put an end to his suffering. His last couple weeks were tough for reasons we don’t entirely know, with Bodhi seeming disoriented and distressed often, probably connected to both age and the neuropathy, and in some ways, letting him go seemed a blessing for him. Things were not going to get better or easier for him, and watching him struggle was just plain painful.
Perhaps Bodhi has his eyesight restored now, and is enjoying running in fields and in the ocean, and being free in ways he hasn’t been able to in the last year or so. We will miss him fiercely…he was one of the best dogs ever. Rest in peace, sweet Bodhi. Make lots of new friends on the other side of the rainbow bridge.