Annie Hears A Symphony

As I began to type this, our little blind foster, Annie, started scratching my back very sweetly… and then (I’m pretty sure) commenced a hump-from-behind.

And then I realized that she needed her donut (like a cone, but also like a first-class traveler’s neck pillow), because she was licking at her spay stitches, and chased her around the room… with Charlie trying to interfere because he thought it was a game.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about how living with a blind pup has created moments of… inspiration? I don’t want to be cheeseball-y about it, like look how much we can learn from the less fortunate! But there have been a few tangible examples of, like… wow.

A little backstory: A little over a week ago, we were told that two dogs — siblings, one blind — had been found dumped in a park in Pico Rivera, and were now getting fixed and needed a home. We decided to name them Annie and Sullivan (Sully), after Helen Keller’s teacher, who herself was mostly blind.

It’s hard to get pairs adopted together, and we thought that if they turned out to be bonded, that would be a cute name-story. (We split them up last night, because we ultimately decided that was the best course of action.)

Anyway, the first night that Annie and Sully arrived, Annie stood with her head upturned, sniffing, ears perked, and it looked to me like she was receiving frequencies that nobody else could hear. A line came to my mind: Oh… she hears a symphony. 

But actually I was mis-remembering the opening of the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations” —

I — I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

Whoops.

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Even though we gave Annie a very appropriate and well-chosen name, for the first week I mostly called her Lady.

We’ve fostered a lot of small dogs, and not all of them have been able to get up and down off the bed, or even the couch. Well, Annie is fearless. She has mastered the couch, and in moments of extreme (or perhaps unwitting) bravery has even jumped down off the bed. (I made her aware of the stairs and the hamper at the end of the bed, but it’s still a work in progress.)

Watching her prepare to jump is strangely inspirational. She thinks and she sniffs and she measures and she cries a little, and then finally — she takes the leap.

It isn’t always a smooth landing, but she bounces back up to her feet, triumphant.

I think in life we all need to remember that the scariest thing isn’t the jump itself, but the fear and uncertainty of taking that leap into the darkness.

This morning I took Annie out to the little park alongside our building’s guest parking lot. I forgot my phone, so it was just the two of us — no texts, no photographs, no Instagram.

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This is from a different day, I pinky swear.

I just stood there with her for a while, watching her react to noises — a salamander skittering down a tree trunk, a plumber clanging pipes around in the back of his van, a buzz saw in the distance.

Sometimes she sniffed the ground, sometimes she shook, the whole time she listened. (Never did she go to the bathroom… ah well.)

Standing with her, enjoying the sun, I noticed all the little things that I might not usually observe if I wasn’t compelled to spend a few minutes in stillness — a perfectly spun spider’s web glistening in the sun, a roly poly… aaand my neighbors moving out via their second-floor balcony and a well-positioned moving truck.

It’s funny because when I was a kid I was pretty much a connoisseur of roly polys, but in the adult world we kind of forget about them.

Typically Annie is a little skittish on the leash outside (we have an awesome sling for walking her along the streets), but after a few quiet minutes she let me reach down and pet her soft coat, and didn’t even flinch.

And then, Annie — ever the little perv — followed her bliss, and resumed one of her favorite pastimes… licking my feet. (Because the internet is like 99.6% foot fetishists combing through Flickr, this may be my most-visited post ever!)

(Lest you walk away feeling that you didn’t experience enough madcap dog humor… As I finished typing this, I realized that although moments later Annie had been noisily chewing her Nyla bone, Charlie had taken over the bone-chewing… and Annie was re-entering the room, having peed in the hall — where, to her credit, there used to be a pee pad. In our doggie world, we call that a real bamboozle.

And now she’s just carrying random objects — shoes, newspapers, toys — around, redecorating the place. I appreciate her initiative!)

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