Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

February 27, 2014

Saving Beauty: a blind and deaf dog

I saw a cocker spaniel a while ago and I’ve thought a lot about him. He was totally blind and deaf from birth, but a good woman raised him anyway.

My wife and I were at a house party and the woman brought the dog. She wasn’t showing him off, but she was proud of him. The dog was wandering around because he’d been there before, and the Boston terrier that lived in the house got along with him fine. At first I didn’t know the dog was blind and deaf dog; he seemed like a normal dog.

I bent down to pat him, first offering my hand in front of his face — something I do with dogs unfamiliar with me. A dog’s most acute sense is olfactory. He sniffed my hand, and I patted him on the head, and he wagged his tail.

A few minutes later, standing in front of him, I reached down again and scratched his back, but this time he startled a bit. Seeing this, the owner explained to me the dog’s condition.

I was surprised and asked, “Completely deaf and blind?” She said yes, and said she’d had him almost from birth. In fact, the dog had a brother with the same condition and the woman’s sister had him. I said that was awfully nice, and I bent down to look at the dog.

Although believing her, I found that it was difficult to believe. It was obvious from looking at the eyes they were useless, being fully opaque. When I spoke, the dog reacted in no way. Then he wandered off, navigating around numerous legs in the kitchen — sniffing, like all dogs do, for an opportune fallen crumb and hoping that someone might offer a morsel. A few people did.

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