Friday, October 2, 2009

My Disabled Dog

Though Lok is blind, Jun is deaf and Elo is missing a leg, Lok is the only one of the three I would consider "disabled." And despite the oft-repeated claims on the blind dog sites that a dog's sense of sight is third most important after smell and hearing, Jun has a far easier time making her way through the world and I highly doubt that a pet dog's sense of smell plays an essential role in his or her day to day life (I guess I can't say for sure, since I've never known a dog without a sense of smell). Maybe in the wild a dog without smell or hearing would be at more of a disadvantage, but in the visual world we human's have created, Lok's lack of sight, even though incomplete, affects him profoundly on a daily basis.

Of the three dogs, Lok takes the most patience to deal with. In training obedience, he now has a hard time positioning himself relative to me, it is difficult for him to find heel and front. I need to remember that even though he could easily do these things just a few months ago, it's not his fault that he has a hard time now. Lok has trouble coming in the house, getting into the car, walking in unfamiliar places. He slows me down, and it's frustrating. And sometimes hard to remember that it's not his fault. I'm sure I'm not the only who gets frustrated--it can't be pleasant to run into walls, fences and other stationary objects on a regular basis.

Sometimes I have to give special consideration to the things I do with Lok. I regularly feel my dogs' ribs at meal times, to make sure they are maintaining a healthy weight, and today he jumped when he felt my hands on him--he didn't see me coming. I'll have to remember to talk to him before I touch him. If things are out of place and in the path he knows, I have to remember he can't see them and move them so he doesn't run into them. Once I accidentally hit him in the butt when I was closing a door and he was afraid to go into that room for the next week!

Lok can't play frisbee, flyball or agility, but the things he CAN do are pretty incredible. At the dog park, he can run through a forest of trees and not hit a single one. How he does that, I really have no idea! Lok can get to the river from any other place in the dog park. I know this because I've lost him more than once and he's been at the river soliciting people to throw things for him each time. Lok can chase rollers by sound and catch them clean. Lok can chase a ball by sound--he hears where it lands and runs right to it every single time. Lok can target a square of duct tape on the wall by smell. Lok never runs into anything in the yard and flies up onto the deck with no hesistation. Lok never runs into anything in the house, unless I move something. Lok loves to learn and can do tons of tricks. And by the looks of things, Lok will still be able to ski with me this winter--he has no problem following a trail in the woods!

Anyway, I don't know what the point of all of this is. Except that people sometimes seem to think I have three disabled dogs, and I disagree. I have one disabled dog. The others are just fine. For that matter, Lok is just fine, but he is the only one really impacted by his "disability."

Oh, and P.S., despite the fact that Elo is "mine" in this post, he is still only mine temporarily.

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