An Ode to Zack, My Disabled Dogby Rebel Mommy, raisingrebelsouls.blogspot.com
November 26th 2012
I was in middle school when we first brought Zack home. My Mother and I had driven out to a farm to pick him from the litter of Australian Sheppard pups. He was the least desirable the first owners made clear. Australian Sheppards are supposed to have darker fur, so that they stand out from the sheep. Dogs this light in color are usually put down on the farm. They have trouble with their eyes and ears. They are of no use, they said. Like I said, we brought Zack home.
Zack did puppy things. He ran around like a wild man. He peed in the house. He ate my teddy bear one afternoon, and by "ate," I mean, chewed the head off and spread stuffing across every square inch of our yard. One day he escaped through the fence, but we soon found him playing with children at a near by park. He was even clever enough to jump over the baby gate that we used to keep him in the kitchen, poop in the living room, and jump back into the kitchen by the time we came home through the door. He feigned innocence, and we just laughed, giving him credit for his intelligence and desire to please.
One day another puppy was over for a visit, and the two dogs played quite well together. After a while though, I noticed something seemed to be wrong with Zack's eye. We took him to the vet immediately, thinking that maybe he had scratched or punctured it in the rough puppy play. As it turns out, he was not injured, but we did learn from the Vet; Zack was blind. It was likely due to his genetics. No treatment would help. We brought him home.
There were some small accommodations I made for him. Moving furniture was a cruel trick, so we did not do it often, and if we had to, I would bring him to the area, let him sniff and feel his way around. We also had to be careful around glass doors, as he often bumped into them. I explained to new people that he could not see, so that they would take extra care. I was protective of him, but I suspect that had more to do with me, than with his disability.
Mostly, Zack just did dog things. He greeted me with the most enthusiastic booty shaking when I came home from school. He followed me from room to room with the utmost loyalty, and he also made friends with everyone he encountered. He hogged the bed at night. He learned where to use the bathroom. He chewed the crap out of dog bones. He barked at the doorbell and also at anyone on a skateboard. He created his own familiar pathways in our yard. Zack was a good, good, dog.
Now, I know that a disabled dog and a disabled human are two very different things. I imply nothing beyond that point, but still I reflect...I never questioned my choice in Zack. I never cried for his inability to see. I never wondered about his quality of life, even though he was not out there herding sheep like his brothers and sisters. I never, not for one day, not for one moment, considered him less. Actually, like most dog owners, I considered my dog to be the best dog in the world. He was, to me. Aside from the discouraging words I heard on his first day, no one ever told me to how to feel about my blind dog. I did what came naturally, I took him home, and I loved my dog.
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