Tuesday, January 31, 2012

About a Dog

“I am chained to the earth to pay for the freedom of my eyes. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943

I found Pickles curled up in the empty alcove pouting, where the Christmas tree used to be. She wouldn’t even look at me, turning away shifting her head from one paw to the other. With my heart in my throat, I slid down the wall beside her and pulled her chin up on my outstretched legs. She muzzled my hand in apology, confused by her own behavior.

For Pickles, the Christmas tree’s beacon of bright colorful lights has disappeared, gone were those days of curling beneath branches mesmerized by the dazzling luminosity. Charcoal black eyes full of questions search my face for answers. She senses love, momentarily forgetting tree lights and the luxury they afforded her darkening world as I hug her close.

“We make a pair – a deaf woman and her blind dog. You’re so much more than a working dog, always have been.” I whisper reassuring. “We’ll get through this, together.” She perks up at the mention of work. She lives to work and it serves twofold as the reason for her distress lately. Little does she comprehend I could never repay all she’s done already. Gentle sweet Pickles hid the signs well. Yet, the signs were there weren’t they sweet friend - the slow darkening of your eyes with a hazy sheen dimming their brown luminosity, along with the deteriorating night vision.

Pickles told me without words she needed help the day she stood at the top of the stairs with her front paws on the top stair and her hind legs perched on the floor above waiting. Her confusion gave it away, as she cocked her head to listen, waiting for me to go first – to lead, instead of bounding down the stairs ahead of me like the puppy she was at heart. I knew something had changed as I swiped at tears. I knew things would never be the same again when I tapped the step I stood on, and watched her listen, tuning into each footfall to locate a stair, teaching herself how to handle stairs once again. I learned a heartrending beautiful lesson in humility that day from her.

As I sit beside her, I’m reminded of the first time she taught me to hear without my ears. The Spring day she pointed out a woodpecker in a tree, her eyes guiding mine to where the bird tapped away in a staccato like a pile driver and the utter delight she had shown - chest puffed up, prancing on her front paws when I smiled in wonder and hugged her close. In the following years, I would continue to hear through her, seeing life not as a deaf woman but whole, unhindered through her eyes - eyes, which slowly darken and blur with each passing day. We two complete each other. This animal taught me more thoroughly about life and resilience than any human being could ever have.

Time is a thief, stealing irreplaceable things from our lives. Yet, Pickles remains a testament to the things time can’t touch: hope, courage, love, and perseverance. Despite loss and occasionally wanting to give up, we still go on, we still learn from one another, and hold each other up in an indelicate balance of emotional turbulence to the light of day.

Drawing a deep breath, I gently push Pickles off my lap and go get her leash. I’ll let her nose sniff out where we go from here. This survivor of Katrina, heartworms, and me, has more courage than anyone I know - she’ll be fine, we both will, and someday our story might even make a remarkable book. After all, life is filled with colorful characters and plots overflowing to the brim with life experiences and endurance. This writer lives her story word for word each day with an amazing sidekick…

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37 comments:

  1. {{{{{{indigo~pickles}}}}}}}


    you are always giving out hugs, thought I would give you one for a change :)

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  2. I didn't know she was losing her sight-maybe you posted about it before and I wasn't paying attention well enough, I'm not sure...but I'm glad you have each other..as the saying goes, I hope I can be the person my dog thinks I am.

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  3. Our perception is very much guided by our own imagination, and if we didn't have each other to catch what any one of us is missing, we would miss out on a lot. It's not always easy to open ourselves up though to someone else's perception. You and pickles are fortunate to have each other. :)

    Very beautiful writing here!

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  4. I'm so glad you two have each other. Yes I think there is a beautiful book here. Thanks for sharing such a touching entry.

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  5. Oh this is so beautiful - sad - life-affirming... a book, yes, definitely.

    Much love to you both xxx

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  6. I don't even know your dog and i love her(?)

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  7. This absolutely broke my heart. How lucky you are to have someone as special as Pickles, and how lucky she is to have you.

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  8. Oh, Indigo, this just breaks my heart. I could almost feel her confusion through your words. Makes me want to go up there and help you string holiday lights all over the house just to give her something to look at!

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  9. Awww. Pickles is as lucky to have you as you are to have her.

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  10. Oh how I wish I could give you and Pickles a great, big hug! Your love for each other is clear in this post. I know you will lovingly guide her through this new season of her life.

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  11. I can only imagine how close the two of you are - I can only imagine how painful it is to see your friend start to lose her faculties.

    HUGS to you. HUGS to Pickles.

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  12. Aw! This gave me goosebumps, Indigo! <3

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  13. Thanks everyone for your love and comments. Pickles suffers from PRA - Progressive Retinal Atrophy. A dog can go blind anywhere from 9 months to two years. Unfortunately Pickles is at the low end of that spectrum. I truly believe over time, she'll adjust. Hugs to you all! Indigo

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  14. I'm so sorry about everything poor Pickles is going through, but I know you'll both come out the other side stronger than ever.

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  15. Hi! It's been forever. Sorry to hear about Pickles. :( *hugs*

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  16. i know the joy of learning about living from an animal too. what a tender piece. love to you and pickles.

    if interested, http://www.edpilolla.com/2011/12/my-boy/

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  17. My heart is heavy with the news, but my mind knows that that adorable creature of yours will persevere, and that you love will shine bright.

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  18. This is a sad tale, but it's also one of love and beauty. Just as you learned to depend on Pickles, she'll learn to depend on you. Makes the two of you even more of an inseparable team.

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  19. I think the world has simple joys in store for both of you. The belonging & the loyalty, beautiful. You bring a measure of peace to each other that we all enjoy having an open window on.

    Any opinion to the contrary is brashness, not wisdom(ok, I'm only half kidding ;0). ~Mary

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  20. Sweet Indigo. I love Pickles so much just by your descriptions. I'm friggin crying here...but of course it doesn't take much these days, so don't blame yourself! A fabulous post about a loving and important buddy.

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  21. '“We make a pair – a deaf woman and her blind dog.'
    I bet you make an awesome pair. I remember watching a vet documentary once, and a deaf woman found out her hearing dog had gone blind: she just said 'He's my ears, I'll be his eyes.'
    And dogs don't rely as much on sight as humans, plus they don't really understand what's happened to them, so once she's used to finding her way about again Pickles won't be distressed over her blindness - she probably just thinks it's dark an awful lot these days.
    She sounds fantastic. Give her a hug from me.

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  22. Might be a good book? I believe it's the greatest work in progress ever. Our best rises, after all, from resisting the quiet darkness. Please keep us in the loop and tell us the story here. LL

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  23. I love sweet Pickles, and I'm a cat person!

    XOXO

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  24. What a lovely tribute to Pickles. Wish I could give her a hug.

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  25. Always, coming here is a well of feeling, a temple to beautiful thought, a connection to a higher good. This post about Pickles is proof-positive that you are two of the most special beings in the world.

    A book, yes, most definitely...it must be.

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  26. My dog, who I ended up having put down right before Christmas had suddenly lost her sight a few months before. She was only 7 years. It was devestating to me and her. Unfortunetly her health declined after but she was and always will be my best friend.

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  27. Oh, sweet Pickles...if I didn't know what a loving friend she has in you, I would be terribly sad. But I know that you will be her strength and guide the way she has been yours, albeit in a slightly different way. I know the two of you will persevere! Hugs to you both!

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  28. This was amazing and touching. I hope both you and Pickles adjust and spend many more loving years together!

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  29. You and your fabulous sidekick will definitely have that starring role in a book one day! Pickles is a very special dog - and you make a great team!

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  30. i just found your blog and what a post to have read as the first! it reminded me of years ago when i was going through a big mainline station with a blind friend. my hearing is fuzzy and not much use for picking up the train announcements; she cannot negotiate her way without holding an arm. together we are invincible!

    i am so looking forward to reading through your older posts.

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  31. Indigo, I am sorry that I am so late in comming by to read your blog however they say better late than never...I am so sorry that Pickles has lost his sight but I know that you love him, and he you, so you will get along just fine for as long as possible. It just hurts us not to be able to cure our friends of all their ails..
    Good Night from a cold icy England,
    Love Sybil xx

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  32. You and Pickles are in my prayers.

    I want you to write that book. You are such an amazing author.

    I feel bad that I lost sight of your Blog for a while. I still miss AOL Journals! It felt more like home. But, we all adjust somehow.

    Hugs, Rose

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  33. beautiful! i do believe that dogs can communicate without words much more effectively that some people with words... hugs and love!

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  34. Hello Beautiful Human !
    First off that photo you have up there is fantastic.
    Second,happy to read you are still posting.Your blog
    has always been a space of inspiration for me as a
    fellow writer and human.I look forwards to getting back
    in touch when we can.Big hugs .. Tab xo

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  35. Okay, this one made me cry. I love the relationships we have with animals - like furry family members, though somehow even closer than family. I'm glad you two are sticking with each other and I'm glad Pickles has a good home - and that you have a wonderfully loving guide dog.

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.