I had some experience working with Deaf-blind people, so I figured owning a Deaf-blind dog (a “double dapple” mini Dachshund, exactly) would be a walk in the park for me. And it has been, with flying colors and sugar on top, if by “park” you mean the front yard and carport… but not without its little “bumps” and missteps! The process has been an adventure-a wonderful one- for our family, and the decision to adopt Bailey was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made!
In the Beginning…
See, Bailey had been marked to be euthanized. His birth was the result of irresponsible breeding by those who prized the coloring of double dapple puppies. The breeders, eager to earn the high dollar amount brought by the uniquely colored pups, were willing to risk the high potential of puppies born with deafness, blindness, and sometimes both, among other things. The breeder’s practice in the past was to simply euthanize those unwanted “defective” puppies that they could not sell.
Bailey was one of the puppies born with multiple disabilities, being both blind and deaf. His coat was a stunningly beautiful white with a few brownish markings over one eye and on one ear-very unusual for a dachshund! His eyes were deep-set, due to a development abnormality, but he could see light and shadows, apparently, and he was profoundly Deaf. A local dog trainer heard about the litter and, in her words, “begged for the puppies” who on the list to be euthanized. She was given one male puppy, and later received a female puppy from the same litter. I’m so grateful to this woman for rescuing my sweet Bailey, and for her sacrifice in giving him up so I could adopt him!
So Bailey was Deaf and blind. Only he didn’t know it. He still doesn’t! There isn’t a place he won’t try to go; a mountain of laundry he won’t try to climb, or a room he won’t try to navigate! He runs freely out in the yard, afraid of nothing (but only when someone is watching him-don’t tell him!) He is a happy and carefree little guy, except for the occasional tree or car tailpipe he runs into. I always cringe when I see him heading for something (or someone) at full speed! He usually shrugs it off, gives it a “Who put that there?” look, and carries on. I cringe whenever he runs through the carport, expecting him to run into the tailpipe of my car. I have to admit that at least once he got a soot mark around his eye from the tailpipe, making him look like the dog on the “Little Rascals” show, or the RCA dog!
I love to watch him navigate with his God-given senses that make up for his loss of hearing and sight. Whenever he encounters a new place, such as a yard, he tends to walk in circles, ever widening, as he memorizes a map of the place in his mind! If he enters at a different side, his map is skewed, and he figures it out when he runs into something, and has to start all over again visually mapping it. He does the same thing inside the house, and bumps into things when “Mommy” rearranges the furniture or sets a package down in the middle of the floor! It’s a good thing he can’t hear us chuckle at his humorous expressions as he runs into these obstacles.
Bailey is a “Momma’s boy”. He knows when it is time for Mommy to come home each day, even though he can’t see the sun set, a watch, or even hear a car door, and although he is friendly with the other occupants of the house, it is Momma his heart waits to see. And when I get home, he follows me very closely with what we call his “cane nose”, and climbs into my lap any time I sit down. He uses his nose to touch and sense what is around him at all times, like blind people use their canes with the orange tip. Last night, in the bed he allows me to share with him (how generous of him!), he touched his nose repeatedly around my head until he found my face, as he crammed his moist cane nose into my eye socket. Oh, how delightful-NOT! But sweet. Other dogs are intimidated by him. He wants to play, but his loud bark when he is lonely (or just thinks he is alone) scares the be-jeebies out of them all! So he’s not too popular with his doggie brother and sister, both Papillions. They may be just jealous, though, since he seems to be Mommy’s favorite!
Bailey’s intelligence is beyond question. He uses his senses like a master. I know he has me trained, and, although it took a while (I’m not as smart as he is, apparently), I have learned how to communicate with him by touch, and what he does to tell me what he needs or wants, including his voice, his nose pointing, and his nose touching. He is expert at letting me know when it’s water time, or potty time, or if he’s bored and wants down. It’s all very fascinating, and I will post another blog about it later!
I’m going to close by saying that I am glad God brought Bailey into my life. When my husband passed away suddenly a couple of years ago, Bailey was a great comfort to me. He snuggled with me in the bed to keep me from being lonely, and always made sure I knew I was loved and cared for with his little Bailey kisses.