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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My dog is a miracle with paws!

     Now it may seem odd to do a blog about RA that pays tribute to Leah, my Bichon Frise, but it will all make sense in a minute.
     As you can see, she is adorable!  What you cannot see (sounds like RA, no?) is that she is deaf, has been since birth.  She also has lots of allergies which manifest in red patches on her coat and red eyes which you can see in the photo.  She is also a bit heavy (can you say chunky) for her breed.  Bichon's are normally 12-15 pounds tops...Leah is 24 pounds!  She looked big from the moment I saw her and over the years she has maintained the weight so I guess this is the size she was intended to be.
      She loves people and would like to come to my office (that is her "chair" above) everyday but it just is not practical and once she comes on any kind of a regular basis there is no living with her afterward as she makes this horrific wailing sound when I leave if I don't bring her!  She does not bark in the traditional sense (well every now and then she does, but rarely) most likely because of being deaf.  
     When we first figured out she was deaf (and it takes a surprisingly long time) I was devastated at the thought that she would not be able to hear our voices and the sounds of the world around her, including those that warn her of impending trouble, like car horns, a growling animal, etc.  Our vet calmed me down considerably however when he explained to me that dogs don't "understand" language in the traditional sense but hear "blah, blah, blah".  They learn tones, etc. to differentiate sounds.  That said he did caution me that she must NEVER be left off the leash or even in a yard with an invisible fence as that would keep her in but not predators out and with her inability to hear she would be very vulnerable.  
     And so my life with my "mutant" Bichon began nearly 6 years ago and it has been an adventure for us both.  She loves lights and wind and fireworks and lasers and snow and her nest of pillows wherever she can make them....
     She is the most tactile, affectionate dog EVER!  If you come to my house be prepared because within minutes she will not only greet you but be in your lap nestled up demanding you pet her or "presenting" you with one of her toys to play tug of war with her.  I am blessed with a dear friend who "dog sits" for us when we travel and so Leah actually has 2 moms - a very fortunate animal indeed!
     She is fascinated with the stars and often sits on the back porch gazing up into the sky...she really does have a unique perspective on the world...
     I truly believe that God gave this very special animal to me for a reason...we are both handling our own challenges and by allowing me to witness how beautifully and perfectly Leah moves through her life without complaint or any signs of distress over the "cards she was dealt" I can witness how I should view my life.  When I feel sorry for myself I can simply gaze at my little Leah and see that no matter the obstacles, we can find joy and love and happiness in our lives.
     Last year, our vet suspected Leah had an enlarged heart and that she was in serious danger.  We took her to a specialist and found out it was not anything serious and she is fine...around the same time I was mis-diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and for 3 hellish weeks did not know my fate.... and so our mutual saga continues!  It really is amazing how many parallels we have.  When my hands are especially tender or in pain I find that gently petting Leah's soft coat brings me relief and keeps my fingers from locking up.  And since she simply loves to be petted it is a win/win for us both!
I truly believe God sent her my way for a purpose...and she has served me well...I only hope I can bring her half the joy and comfort she brings to my life.  


Wren said...

Oh, Nan. What a dear friend you have in that little dog! I've believed for a long time (from before the idea was "fashionable) that companion animals are therapeutic; by their very presence in our lives they soothe and heal us emotionally and, at times, physically. I had a Boston terrier as a teenager who helped me through the angst of adolescence with his affection, his warmth and his comical nature. And more recently (OK, the last 15 years) my friend-cat PIB (Puss in Boots)helped me through the loss of my job and many bouts of painful rheuma over the years. Until he died a couple of months ago, he was my constant warm, purring companion.

Thank goodness for animals. thanks for telling us all about sweet Leah.

Anonymous said...

I have myself an RA therapy doggie too. Even though the morning walks are dreadfully painful for ME, I do what he needs and vice versa.
As far as yours not "hearing" you, my opinion is it does not matter to her in that way it does to you. In fact my dog is wordlessly causing me to have a self awareness of the fact that talking is not needed, between us. I have an otherwise lonely sad life (long story) and tend to talk to myself outloud...well my dog lately , barks when I do and it dawned on me he thinks someone is here when he hears me having a "conversation" and it's not with him. It made me think about it and realize that other than commands, and realitively few other things, they pick up on feelings and vibes more than us talking.
peace and happy holidays.

Coopy said...

As the mother of six critters, I can tell you without a doubt, they keep me moving every single day. If not for the commitment I gave to them when we chose them, I shiver to think where I might be at my disease today. They truly give back far more than they every demand. The love shared is so mutual and fulfilling. I love my buggers to pieces and wouldn't have it any other way. You Bichy is beautiful. She only needs know the movement of your heart and the gentleness of your hand. Huggers. Tammy

Nan said...

Thank you everyone for your own beautiful animal stories! I did not mention in my post that I still "talk" to Leah as the vet said that not doing so would effect the way we interact...and I use gestures to train her which works for the most part..
take care all!

Cathy said...

This is absolutely beautiful. Like you, I feel my dog was sent to me for a special reason. I have an energetic border collie with lots of needs to move. This helps me to get up every day and move with her! She is very special and I love that we can go out and explore together.

Thanks for sharing Nan. This is one of my favorite posts.