Bodhi loves the beach, which isn’t much of a surprise. There’s very little that Bodhi doesn’t enjoy. He’s one of the most chill dogs I’ve ever met, much like Butterscotch of blessed memory. Butterscotch took everything in stride and enjoyed her days, and Bodhi is so much like her in that way. He’s been a joy to have on vacation with us. I think we’ll have to plan some more beach time in the future, for him and for us!
We’re away for a week of R&R, and Bodhi got to join us this time. A friend has a beach home and she was kind enough to let us use it and bring Bodhi for his first beach adventure. So far he seems to enjoy it, but there’s very little that Bodhi doesn’t enjoy. We brought a sheet along to cover the couch, so we wouldn’t leave dog hair all over, and Bodhi has settled there with Marley, as he does as home, and he’s taken to the beach and ocean as if he’s always known it. Such an easy traveler. Life is good.
One of the challenges in providing a good life for a blind dog is the need for enrichment. That’s true for all dogs (and cats and people and…) but a sighted dog can at least look out the window, people watch, bark at the mail and package deliveries and such. Bodhi can’t look out the window, and I guess we are really blessed that he seems to not care much about mail and deliveries, or barking for that matter. But the problem is that his days can be ones of crushing boredom if we don’t help out with some enrichment.
Our arsenal of enrichment activities continues to grow. The bells on walks and for guidance in running have been great; we play hide and seek with them in the house too, where Bodhi has to come find us when we ring the bells. We usually get him out for walks four times a day, and when there’s time there are field trips to new places, or to the accountant’s office where he can raid the treat drawer. But we keep working on other new and interesting activities that not only use his body, but also his brain. When I worked with a local trainer recently, Bodhi came home from our hour-long session TIRED, as in trashed, and rested until the next morning. So I’m working on some of the things my friend suggested with Bodhi to add a little more zest to his days.
Betsy, my trainer friend, noticed what I had seen too…Bodhi never really learned to use his nose much. So I’m working on helping him to use that to have some fun with games and food puzzles. “Find it,” the game of searching out a smelly treat in a relatively small space is pretty challenging for him still, but we’re working. As often as not he finds the treat by stepping on it, instead of sniffing it out, but he’ll figure it out eventually.
The food puzzle, however, is going a bit better. I put all of his dinner kibble in a puzzle, and he goes to town getting his food out. It slows down the eating, which never hurts, but it also makes him think and work to get what he wants, and you can tell from the photos that he’s having fun.
Little by little we’ll find fun things for this guy. If nothing else, he forces us to be more creative, and in the process, we’re all learning new things and having some fun together. Seems that enrichment is good for all of us.
“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?
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.
This is our first winter with Bodhi, and today was the first real snow we’ve had. Bodhi is overjoyed! Who knew we had a snow dog? He’s like a six-month old out there, even though he’s around five. He’s had a banner week, running in the fields with the bells, and now the snow. And the snow is pretty safe for a blind dog running…many fewer obstacles. I don’t think he could get much happier! Here are some photos…not very good ones…but tried to get them before the sun went too much further down. I have much to learn about action shots still.
Wish I had half his energy!