I had an inkling it would be the last. But it wasn’t for the reason I thought it would be.
One sunny Sunday, the Husband and I decided to take Gryffon and Gracie for a walk at the nearby state park. I was hesitant to take the dogs. Gryffon is twelve years old and his hips are bad. He just doesn’t get around all that well anymore, and he can’t do the walking he used to. On the other hand, Gracie has always been so energetic that she pulls my arm out of its socket every time I try to walk her on a leash. It’s a tug-of-war – Gracie’s pulling us, and we’re pulling Gryffon.
Still, Husband was insistent so I agreed. The dogs were delighted to go for a car ride, and they wiggled with excitement when we put the leashes on them. I took the girl and Husband took the boy.
And as always happens, Gracie drove me crazy by yanking me along.
We switched dogs. Husband is better able to keep Gracie in check. It wasn’t too long, though, before I said, “I don’t think Gryffon’s going to make it much further. He’s tired.” And indeed, he was dragging along behind, tripping over roots he couldn’t quite see with his cloudy eyes, and almost audibly asking to lie down for a bit. I said, “This might be the last walk we can take with him.”
But it wasn’t Gryffon we needed to worry about.
We finally made it to the car, and Husband lifted each dog into the back.
That was odd. Gryffon hasn’t been able to jump into the car for years, but Gracie has always been spry enough to hop right in. This time, she seemed wary.
That was the beginning.
Monday evening, I sat in my chair catching up on some schoolwork. Grading papers, planning lessons. All that stuff I try to leave at school but never can. And Gracie was wandering around the house.
Wandering, but not her usual energetic habit of eating used tissues out of the trash baskets, noisily drinking water until her beard drips, and nosing into whatever interests her at the time. No, this time it seemed an aimless wandering, as if she were lost in this house we’ve lived in for three years.
Then Tuesday came. Around ten in the morning, Husband let the dogs out for their usual romp around the yard. Gracie didn’t come back with Gryffon, but that’s not so strange. When two hours passed and she still hadn’t returned, Husband began to worry. He drove around the neighborhood, talked to the neighbors, called the animal shelters.
It turns out, she had wandered away – something she has never done in all of her eleven years – and was picked up a half mile from here and taken to the shelter.
When husband retrieved her, he knew right away something was wrong.
She was completely blind.
Forty dollars later, after a vet visit where we learned that she is blind (thanks, that was so helpful), we faced a lot of questions. What happened to her? How did this occur so quickly? What can be done? The vet gave us a referral to take her to a canine ophthalmologist for a $150 consult where they would either give her ointment or remove one swollen eye – “to ease her discomfort” even though she doesn’t seem uncomfortable to us. Just lost.
No one can restore her vision. Probably no one can tell us why she lost her sight so instantaneously.
But now, we adjust to life with Blind Gracie, and we love her all the more.
Bernadette Smart, the main character of the novel I’m writing, also has a dog. Her name is Martha Washington, and she’s a big furry thing. Next month, come back for a story about Bernadette and her pup.