"It shouldn't matter. His senses are keen and his heart is righteous."
This weekend, my husband and I added to our little family; we adopted a very special puppy who we've named Bummer, after the dog in Christopher Moore's novels "You Suck" and "A Dirty Job."
Rockerboy, Curly Joe, me and 7-Up/Bummer at Oregon Dog Rescue
Tank has been gone almost five months, and though I vowed to never get another dog, Facebook had something else in mind for me. I follow several dog rescue groups on Facebook, and one relatively local one posted a picture of some very unique-looking puppies. They caught my attention because a) PUPPIES, and b) they looked like my childhood dog, Duke, and my old dog Bernie who died several years ago. It wasn't until a week or so later that I saw it mentioned that a couple of the pups were blind and deaf. My sister and I, over the years of taking in animals, became known as the Island of Misfit Toys for animals. If it was messed up in some way, it was OURS. And we took the best care of them, and they all lived long, happy lives. My heart went out to the puppies, especially as I watched the adoption announcements pop up for the "normal" puppies. 7-Up and his sister, Rootbeer, remained behind at the rescue.
I brought it up to my husband, "How would you like to adopt a blind and deaf puppy?" and he was understandably nervous at the prospect. "What if I step on it and hurt it because it can't get out of the way?" Not to mention, how do you train a blind/deaf puppy? Finally, I said, "Well, what if we just foster one of them? See how it goes?" Before I could look into that, I saw the notice that Rootbeer had been adopted. A couple of more adoption events went by, at which 7-Up was present, but wasn't adopted. He was all I could think about. I knew in my heart that he should be with us, and when another picture popped up of him in a little Oregon Ducks sweater, I became determined to make him ours, if only to get him out of those Greenbay colors.
A lot of people commented on the photo, saying they wanted to come out and see him at the next adoption event, and I panicked: someone else was going to snatch him up before I could. Then my car went kaplooey to the tune of $700. 7-Up's adoption fee was about half that, so needless to say, I was devastated. I read in the rescue's description of him that he was mostly blind and deaf. Mostly? Well, I can work with that! I fostered a deaf dog when I lived in upstate New York, and he was a great companion. Friday rolled around and when I went to pick up my car, found that it wasn't as bad as they'd feared, and the bill was $300 less than expected. Then my husband came home and told me he didn't have to work on Saturday, and that we could be at the rescue in the morning, right when they opened. We pawned his amp for an extra $200, and I told the rescue that my husband and I and Curly Joe would be there to meet 7-Up. When I got home from work Saturday morning, I stayed up and cleaned and at 9:30 took Curly Joe for a walk. We left at around 10:30 and got to the rescue right as the volunteers were bringing the fostered dogs in. As we parked the car, I kept saying, "Is that him? Is that him? Is that him??" but none of them were.
We took Curly for a short walk, then sat in the car for a few more minutes. At 11:00 on the dot, Rockerboy, Curly Joe and I walked into the Oregon Dog Rescue and asked to see 7-Up. We were told he hadn't arrived yet, so I sat down with Curly and Rockerboy excused himself to use their restroom. A few seconds later, a woman walked in with a small carrier, and one of the volunteers said, "There's 7-Up!"
As soon as Rockerboy came out, they brought the puppy over to see us and it was love at first sight. Which sounds mean because the poor guy is mostly blind, but there it is. Love at first blur. The first thing I noticed was his muppet face, the second was the ridge of fur stuck up in a stripe along his spine. They let us into this little gated meeting area where we could interact with the puppy. He hopped out of my arms and trotted around like he had 20/20 vision, totally ready to play with Curly Joe. His foster mom came in and talked to us about him, how he got along with her two other dogs, how he got along at home, etc. I guess all the puppies have that ridged stripe of fur, and one of them has been renamed Stripe. (They were all named after different kinds of pop: 7-Up, Rootbeer, Mountain Dew and Sprite.)
After what seemed like two minutes, we were signing papers and going over the adoption process. 7-Up's foster mom brought us his things, and said goodbye before she started crying. Rockerboy and I were choked up as well, mostly because we were finally meeting him after all that time, and he was so adorable and awesome, and his ears do the "happy ear" thing that Tank's used to.
He has an appointment to be neutered on the 11th, which is already paid for so YAY. I'm going to request that night off of work because Rockerboy has zero puppy experience and even less than zero post-surgery experience.
We had originally thought of renaming him Bonzo because it sounds like a muppet and he looks like a muppet, plus: Zeppelin. But Bummer seemed like HIS name. One of the things Rockerboy and I bonded over after reconnecting on facebook was our mutual love for Christopher Moore's novels, and Bummer is one of our favorite characters. Little Bummer passed out in my lap on the way home.
As soon as we walked into the apartment, he walked in like he'd always lived there. It was a gloomy afternoon, so I turned all the lights on so Bummer could see his new living space as best he could. He bumped into a few things (mostly while playing with Curly Joe), but nothing concussion-inducing, and really you can hardly tell he has vision issues.
Having been awake for 24 hours at this point, I decided to take a little nap on the couch. Bummer joined me.
We woke up a few hours later, just in time to veganize my mother-in-law's stuffing recipe and watch Svengoolie. We all ended up passing out on the couch, and I got up around 6:00 to take the puppy outside. He's peed every time I've taken him out and pooped almost as often. So far, no accidents in the house. I don't expect that to hold out, but for now it's nice. It's hard to put his collar on him so we can go outside because he's just so PUPPY EXCITED and has NO idea why I'm messing with the back of his neck, and once we get outside, he does his business and that's about it. Sunday afternoon, we took both dogs for a short walk around the complex, and Bummer was so happy to be walking with Curly Joe, he started frolicking. Like, Kermit the frog spaz dance frolicking. So bad that I had to pick him up and carry him for fear he'd frolick himself right off of the sidewalk. I'm thinking I'm going to get blinking lights to put on our shoes and Curly Joe's collar so that he has a better visual cue as to where he's walking. I am also going to get him a safety vest for the express purpose of drawing "cautious" attention to him. I'll write "I AM BLIND AND DEAF" on it so that people will know to ask before trying to pet him.
I've already contacted Petsmart about special classes for him, and was so jazzed to find out they offer private and group classes. I have a couple of days off this week, and I may take Bummer to see the trainer I spoke to, so she can get a better idea of how we should approach his training.
All in all, he's settling in nicely here. I think Tank would have approved. He reminds us of Tank in a lot of ways, actually. Maybe that should upset me, but it doesn't. We both find it comforting. Considering all the little things that led up to Bummer's adoption, I think Fate had a hand in this. I've had animals my whole life, and I am a firm believer in the right dog finding you at the right time. That was never more true than with Tank and how he chose me, and I think this time it was my turn to choose Bummer. The thing that touches our hearts the most about Bummer is that he was born right around the same time Tank died. We joked that they met in passing; Tank on the way out, Bummer on the way in, and Tank said to the puppy, "I have just the family for you. Hold on and they'll find you." And we did. Money is tight, my debt is high, life is stressful, but it's all easier to deal with now that there are two dogs in the house again. Only having one dog felt wrong, for us and for Curly Joe. And though Curly is having some issues adjusting, it's not hard to see how happy these two make each other.
(The noise you hear around the 20 second mark is me having a breathing treatment.)