“You know it’s really nice that you kept her, don’t you? A lot of people wouldn’t have.”

I hear this all the time. I’m a grown man and it makes me want to cry. It’s true. A lot of people, sadly, would not have kept her. You know what that means.

She’s not ordinary. She’s blind. Even after medications and laser surgery, the pressures from glaucoma were wracking her eyes with pain and she could hardly see with them anyway. So her beautiful amber eyes were removed two years ago and the pain went away with what was left of her sight.

When we go somewhere I guide her into the car and while we walk in the park I watch the ground ahead of her to make sure she won’t step on something sharp. I also look for mud puddles and snakes and guide her around. I slap bees away from her. I keep her from falling off steep embankments. When we come to a curb I say, “Up!” or “Down!” She knows what I mean. I am a seeing eye human.

In the beginning, after her eyes were removed, she often banged her head into things in the house. I would cringe and console her, but she would just shake it off. In an amazingly short period of time she had the house memorized, so this problem went away for the most part. When we go away for a holiday and leave her at The Perfect Pet Resort (it’s actual name), they always comment on how amazed they are that, after the first time she goes out in their fenced play area, she gets around like any other dog.

One day, not long after her eye removal surgery, she and I were walking in the park. It was autumn and the leaves were gorgeous, but she couldn’t see that. A single leaf came tumbling out of a tree and helicoptered slowly down in front of us. She tracked it perfectly in the air, pointing like a bird dog, following it until it came to a skittering, rustling halt on the sun-dried fall grass. I emailed her eye surgeon about this and got a quick reply: “You just made my day!”

Some people say the worst thing is that she can no longer see me. “That little dog really loves you.” This is what a woman sitting next to me on a bench at a lacrosse game once said, watching Dusa gently put one front paw and then the other on my knees so she could get closer to my face and simply stare into my eyes with her deepest affections. I miss that and she must, too, but we make up for it with lots of nuzzling. I think I have become more dog-like and it’s wonderful.

Sometimes when we’re walking in the park, a passerby will comment on her “blue” eyes.

Dusa's "Blue" Eyes

Usually, I smile and let it go. What they see are her fake eyes, her silicone ones. Sometimes I don’t let it go and say, “They’re not her eyes.” This is for the amusement of watching their puzzled expressions. Then I pull a laminated photo out of my wallet that shows her before her surgery, so they can see how beautiful her real eyes were.

In the winter months I cover Dusa up in her bed with a fleece blanket. I know she loves that and she looks so contented with just her head showing. When she gets up and turns around to reposition herself in the middle of the night, I cover her back up and nuzzle her.

Our bond is so strong because we really need each other. She shows her affection in countless doggy ways. She depends on me and I adore her. She will be nine years old this October. I am blessed.


19 responses to “Dusa

  1. This is beautiful. For this act of love, I forgive you for not calling me Cathy. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Thank you for sharing a beautiful story. Animals are amazing and can tolerate/handle losses much better than you or I.
    Having said that I have a cat with no eyes. I think she had eyesight as a kitten, but she was abandoned by her Mom after her eyes became infected and she could not follow the litter. She was given to me when one eye had already ruptured, and the other eye could not be saved. She will be 12 years old at Thanksgiving. She loves to go outside and I have lost her twice. With help I have always somehow found where she wandered to. She is the bravest animal I know and the sweetest. Because of her blindness I named her Grace and her nickname is Gracie.
    Thanks for letting me share.

  3. I love the old girl! Give Dusa a big squeeze for me…. She is a very lucky girl u know, to have all that love. A happy, lucky, old girl ! And so are you to have her. Who says her lifes not perfect…she thinks it is! ((((hugs))))

  4. And I forgot to add that Gracie is the best flycatcher I have ever had. She can hear them and swat them out of the air. She chases them and unfortunately, she eats them.

  5. Beautiful!

  6. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Gordon. I think you had no choice in the matter of whether or not to “keep” Dusa. Clearly SHE chose YOU to be her eyes, her companion, her loyal caregiver, long ago…Who else could have done this for her?

    What we have with our pups is truly wonderful, magical, and lovely. It seems to me the relationship between dog and guardian is not to be taken lightly and clearly you have reached Dusa in ways you never imagined. And it seems that she has moved you to core of your being and taught you lessons about life that no Civil War skirmish ever could.

    Peace, friend, and hugs to Dusa!


  7. Touching GFM. Five and one half years ago I would not have understood. I do today.

  8. Such an uplifting essay. Of course, all who love or have loved a dog know your choice was the only choice. Being Dusa’s seeing eye human is gift to both of you… the bond there is beyond words, beyond love, beyond devotion.

  9. How wonderful, Gordon! I love her too, even though we’ve never met.

  10. Rose Tinted Glasses

    Gordon, Dusa has a gift and that would be you!

    And I am already a fan of your writing, so I will silently read and try and learn a trick or two from the veteran when it comes to what he does the best, paint pictures with words!

    Very touching! Dusa you are special and Gordon loves you a lot!

  11. Love at it’s finest. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. You and Dusa are both special creatures!

  12. Very nice Gordon – what a special bond you and Dusa share 🙂

  13. Thanks for that about Dusa. Almost every day I talk to owners about their beloved pets going blind or being blind. It is hard to not be cliche’ and say “she will surprise you and delight you and you will learn from her through the experience” but it is so true. Once again, you made my day!

  14. Since I have met Dusa I can say she is truly a gifted dog. She is amazing and lovable. I could not imagine someone not loving her!

  15. Animals are one of the greatest gifts God has given us. Bill and I can’t imagine being without one and everyone of ours so far has come from an animal shelter and been in need of love. They return it thousandfold.
    What a lovely and heartwarming story.

  16. Wonderfully touching. Dusa is indeed lucky to have you and you her.

  17. And Dusa too is blessed. Thank you so much for sharing this-beautiful! Hoping for many more wonderful years together for you and Dusa.

  18. I just stumbled upon this from a link from Madison Woods. I am humbled by your greatness of heart and love. You are making the world a better place just by being. Thank you.

  19. You might enjoy reading Gwen Cooper, Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat (2009)

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