Discovering joy with a smelly blind dog

Andy and I went to the South LA shelter on Saturday to pick up a Pekingese who was in terrible shape–I’ve never smelled such a revolting smell, and I’ve sorted through landfill samples to test for what percentage of the material is recyclable.

Mickey went straight from the shelter to the vet who had to shave off pounds of filth and hair. Underneath we found that he has dozens of lumps which the vet aspirated. She says they look benign–Pekes often get cysts–but I’ve never seen so many on a dog, and his tail is covered. We will have to have the lumps tested if I notice any change in them.

There are a few things quite clear: his age, for one, much older than the shelter guessed (they usually lowball), and he appears to see only shadows. His mouth is a complete mess and he needs dental work done. He has quite a bit of pigmentation covering his eyes, and I doubt he will ever see well. We have been helping him learn the layout of the Suburban Lair little by little.

He is exhausted and extremely depressed most of the time. But–but–he seemingly takes joy in the smallest of his victories. Among the myriad tail-waggers at the Suburban Lair, Mickey is already the undisputed champion. The simplest thing brings about a minor tsunami of tail wagging: the touch of your hand, a good clear-smelling breeze in his face, the realization that he has finally found his favorite bed after creeping his way through a disorienting maze of furniture in what must seem like a cavernous room. It warms even my my tar-hard, dime-sized heart.