When Lita Went Blind

July 3, 2007 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

When Lita Went Blind                  

            Everyone remembers Lita as that vital pup; flying sky high for Frisbees, relentlessly chasing sticks that literally weighed more than her; faithfully going absolutely Any Place with me, with Russ, and having that heavy dog responsibility to make sure that everyone was safe and that the pack was together.  She and Russ had a special connection that I think went to The Other Place. I’d have to say that pretty much exactly the time that Russ got sick, Lita did, too. I remember early on, Russ would tell me about these “conversations” he had with Lita, and that she would “talk” to him and give him peace—not cure, nor answers; just peace, everything was alright. Her illness mirrored Russ’. I was convinced that she had cancer, too, though the veterinarian couldn’t find out what was wrong. Russ would throw up, I’d turn my head, and there she did, too. He’d have diarrhea, then there she was. He’d pee on the floor, and her, too. We both believed that she would die right with him, but she plugged on, doing what she could, for as long as she could. That was distinctly a part of her personality. Somehow, she had to take care of the pack.

            One of the symptoms she had (and actually, Russ was supposed to have, according to the doctors) was blindness. It came on so fast. And these days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how she handled it, and being the sort of person I am, I look at her behavior, then think of my own. What we just didn’t understand was that she just didn’t get that she was blind. We’d be sitting on the couch, and there she would go running into the wall, and we would say, “Ouch! Poor baby!” But what was unbelievable was that then she would do it again: same wall, same place, hitting it over and over, and she would pant in frustration. I’d go over, pull her away, try to redirect her, and there she would go, pounding into whatever spot she was in, just not accepting her blindness. It took so so long for her to get past this stage, and it was awful to watch her grapple with the change in her body. So much about what she loved in life was about seeing.

            In time, and for a short while, we could bounce the ball off the wall, and she would hear it, catch it, and that was so sweet. Then her other senses diminished also: she couldn’t hear, couldn’t smell. I think half of a nostril worked. She could smell around a treat in front of her nose, make a full circle, then zero in on swallowing it down. This was the gal who could smell tennis balls through thick walls. One of the principals at one of my schools liked to entertain visitors by planting a tennis ball in one classroom and then watch Lita smell it out through the other room. Lita grew up in classrooms, and was a part of the experience of school for many, many children. Lita was a crowd pleaser, without even intending to do so. She simply had a passion for living. As time went on in the illness, she and Russ would walk slowly around the block, and some of the wonderful people who came to help would tenderly walk her slowly as well, her panting, and me trying so hard to explain about what she was. Last year at this time, I’d take Lita and Cholla down to Carmel beach, carrying her by then big body all the way down the stairs so she could feel the sand under her paws, blunder around and not get hurt.

            So my girl is gone. I don’t know; maybe she is “talking” to me now—getting me to keep that scene of her bashing her head over and over in painful futility, and us, in the objective place, saying “Just accept it. It’s obvious. You have a change. Adapt.” I think she wants me to hold that scene now, as I make my transitions.


Entry filed under: Dog Stories.

When Lita Went Blind Dance

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