Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Scene In Which Things Aren't Always As They See(m)


It's such a small word, yet one with so many possibilities.

You can have hindsight.....and if you're lucky, maybe gain a little insight.

You can have forsight......

You might use a line of sight to describe something your eyesight allows you to see, particularly when sight-seeing....

And every day, we use sight-descriptive words to convey thoughts and commands, or to otherwise communicate, with the world around us.

"Look at that."

"See that?"

"Watch this."

And it's only when something challenges our notion of sight that we realize, perhaps, how much we rely on these funny little blobby things on our faces to do so much.

This week, Finnigan got to go to the eye doctor.

Finnigan, for those of you who don't know, is the lil bubbers (um, yes, that's what I call him....) that I adopted from the shelter about two years ago. We figured he had a rough first couple years of life, since he tends to be a little more skittish when things fall on the floor or, for example, when I trip over a box, stub my toe, and curse all while dropping a full (open) can of coke on the floor where inevitably my laptop case and other paperwork are lying, like I did today in theory.

He's spent the past two years with me making up for rough times by being allowed on every couch, chair, bed or other perceivably comfortable perch in the house at whim, napping in the sun, dining on the choicest of doggie kibbles, taking frequent walks through our lovely neighborhood, and having lots of playdates with other doggie friends. Not to mention being hugely spoiled by Grandma and Grandpa, where, among other doggie delights, there are sometimes scrambled eggs or liverwurst for breakfast.

We've always known that Finnigan didn't have the greatest eyesight. When I first got him, one of his regular vets noticed an absence of nerves on part of his left eye - a birth defect that probably cut down on his peripheral sight. Since he's been known to bump into a couple things, well, that made sense.

But at our most recent visit, the vet recommended that I take Finn to a specialist for an eye evaluation. It was looking like he was developing cataracts, and since he is only 4, we wanted to see what her thoughts were.

So, earlier this week, we jumped in the car and headed up to the eye doctor. I filled out about 20 forms and explained his issues and we got put in a room and waited about 10 minutes for the opthamologist. She got out the BIG magnifying glassy thingie (um, I'm sure there's a technical term for it) and spent about two minutes looking in each of his eyes.

Some of you probably realize what is coming.

"Well," she said, "He doesn't have cataracts. He has permanent birth defects in both eyes. He likely never had any sight in his right eye. He may have had a little bit in his left, but now he has a detached retina. There's so little of a chance that he has any sight that I would say he is not a candidate for surgery. He is pretty much blind and has been this way since birth."


Folks, let me tell you, I did not see that one coming.

But the more and more I thought about it, all the little things starting making sense (ahhh, yes, hindsight), like the fact that he moves well around trees and cars and big stuff that he can sense and smell, but the stuff he tends to run into is more like the little signs in your yard, or big sticks that have fallen across the sidewalk.

Or the fact that he has never learned to walk without a leash, and can't be let off of one in a big field without a fence somewhere, because (and at this point I'm hitting my head like, duh) he can't see you!

Or that he loves being in the water but not swimming, because, hellooooo Mom, he can't see where the edges of the pond or lake or pool are.

Or why he, ummm, never loved playing fetch much. Yeah. About that.

Despite this, Finnigan has never done anything that a "normal" dog wouldn't do. He loves to walk, and run, and play on the floor with Grandpa. He loves to get treats and go on car rides and sniff freshly mowed grass and chase birds (yeah, I still can't explain how he can chase birds). Because of his blindness the vet thinks that he has a fantastic sense of space/objects around him and an unbelievable sense of smell. He still loves going to PetSmart and knows the voices of our human friends and the barks of our doggie friends. He's memorized the layout of my house and can run around from room to room unhindered. The truth is, if we had never gone to this eye doctor, we may never have known he was blind.

So I would say that despite his lack of sight, Finnigan can still see the world around him.

It's just not the same way you or I see it.


Now there's some insight.

1 comment:

  1. Well, Finn always seems happy to me. And he has the most beautiful coat of any dog ever! At least now you know. I got a little frustrated with my last dog that he would bark at weird times and seemed resistant to learning commands. I found out much later (after many vet appointments) that he was born with no eardrums! So, I can relate!