My sweet baby dog Frankie.
Frank is a girl by the way, and she's been with me since I was 31. I'm 40 now. My 30's were some of the most intense years of my life.
I saw Frank's cousin - this is what I've always called the dog who came from the same breeders and a combination of the same dogs - on the street in NYC when I was just about to turn 31. I was with my Mom and we were walking up Amsterdam in the 80's. I know exactly where I was at the time (these are the types of things I have memory for). I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw Frank's cousin, looked at the dog Mom and at my human Mom and said out loud, "I want that dog". Franks cousin's Mom and I proceeded to talk in length about her dog, where she got it, why she got it, etc etc. Somewhere in the conversation, dog Mom picked up the dog. As we were leaving the conversation and walking away, her dog put it's head on her shoulder. That was it. I was totally sold.
I went home, called the breeder, and reserved one from the next litter to be. When Frank's litter was born, I picked her out online, bought her a one way ticket to NY, and took a cab to JFK to pick her up. I had no idea what I was doing. My intuition has always been the strongest part of my decision making process. I understand that now and it is more integrated into who I am, so I can articulate it. Back then, I was just doing what I knew how to do. Feel, act, and then think.
The Boston Terrier breed, little to my knowledge at the time, is by far one of the sweetest breeds on the planet. They are absolutely hilarious (my favorite trait in anyone/anything) and they are cuddly beyond belief (my second favorite trait). So, Frank and I bonded very quickly and it wasn't long before she became my barometer: Frankie is as sensitive as they get and my neurosis at the time did not work for her.
**I want to go on record here and state that I've always considered some of my greatest teachers not to be those you might automatically qualify as a 'teacher'**
Often over the years, I've had people stop me while I am walking Frank and say they can see her communicating with me. She started this very early, and I listened VERY closely because I love this little being. There are a variety of things Frank urged me to consider about myself and I feel like the full of them and the 7 years leading up to this next part is another blog post so I'll just say thank you to her and fast forward 7 years. For now.
In January of 2012, I woke up one morning and realized Frank's left eye was NOT normal looking. I rushed her to the vet who told me see an eye specialist immediately. By the time we got to the eye specialist, it was clear that Frank's sight was gone in her left eye and her eye was terribly diseased. Frank had lost her sight previous to that morning upon a retinal detachment. Looking back, I am fairly certain it was a fight with a pit bull - she's a tough little sensitive creature. Like her Mom.
Because Frank's eye developed severe enough glaucoma, it had to be removed. I could go into detail about how bad I felt about not catching it earlier or the amount of heart strings that were tugged as I saw her through this, but I'm pretty sure I'd end up bawling at my computer. So, I'll just say, it wasn't easy.
The good news is, Frank is a cuter one eyed dog than she was a two eyed dog and I became a glaucoma expert. No but really, I did become a glaucoma expert and the good news is that she adapted incredibly well and continued to do all of the things a two eyed creature would do. Frank is tenacious and driven. Like her Mom.
Fast forward another 2 1/2 years:
Last month, we were at one of our favorite walking paths in Boulder. It has a creek running through it and Frank loves to jump in after the ball and swim. That particular day, she jumped, swam, and then banged her eye on a rock. Her depth perception with one eye was always limited or non existent and she had bonked it a number of times since only having one. This time, however, I could see that her sight was limited immediately following the impact. We went right to the eye specialist - he and I have become very accustomed to each other over the years. They gave her some meds, we were good to go, and I was assured she'd be back to seeing fully with in a week.
The following week she was playing with a toy, and she gave the toy a shake. I watched, in that instant, my sweet baby dog go from seeing to blind.
I could go through the whole thing, but I won't. Bottom line, Franks' eye hemorrhaged and the retina detached. This is pretty much the same 'freak' accident that happened in the other eye except this time I caught it right away and started treating it in a variety of supportive ways. At this point, Frank is primarily blind. We wonder if she can see big objects because she is navigating amazingly well since the blood in the back of the eye has decreased. There was a chance it may reattach some after the hemorrhage. For the most part, she can't 'see' much.
On Saturday I was up in Estes Park at the Yoga Journal Conference. Not taking yoga but shopping in the vendor village for yoga clothing deals, and I ran into several sweet yogi friends. One of whom is also a jewelry maker extraordinaire and all around mystical woman. She's also a friend who has a dog baby. We were talking about them and I told her Frank's situation.
But you know what, "she's happy" I said. It took a lot of support on my end and another notch up in our attunement to each other, but I believe she is as, or more relaxed blind than she was with sight. Frank has always been a warrier. Like her Mom.
She doesn't seem quite as nervous anymore. Quite as worried. Quite as jumpy. Quite as anxious. The opposite of what you would think from a dog that went from seeing to blind. As I was telling this to my friend, she said something to me and I cannot remember exactly what she said, but what I heard was - isn't it amazing when we are able to get over our limited perspective enough to see.
You see, Frank went blind but she gained a level of confidence I've never seen in her. She lost her visual sight, but she gained a new level of insight into the world around her. She cannot see much, if anything, but she can feel sharply and acutely. I am in awe of her. She has always been an internal creature (we call her an introvert), and in this process she seems to have stepped more fully into her internal world, which she seems to like. She's not as spooked by noises and I notice her ease at a level she never had before. I believe she likes living in this internal world of hers.
I've been urged by Frank yet again to look at myself and how I take on the world for her sake, as I am now Frank's barometer. We cannot go at our same pace anymore. We must go slower and more cautiously and with more information. If you read my last blog post you will know that this uncovering of inner order is part of what is helping me come further into balance. I have also been urged more fully into my own internal world which consists of a sort of knowing around how the natural world reveals and conceals and how complex living things and organisms operate, organize, weed out, and come to fruition. I have been urged towards providing a level of support for something other than myself that is not conditional, not dependent on what I may mistake as survival, and not tied into my ego. I have been clear about being more clear about the word 'no' and I have remembered that we can never ever say something is only perceived as one way and one way alone.
It has come to my attention that in getting over my perception that her lost sight is 'bad' and recognizing that in blindness she may have gained a type of sight that is beyond what she was able to access with her eyes and has possibly settled into a world that feels more in order with her nature, I have opened to yet another layer of my own sight. This is in fact a layer that repeats itself over and over in my life: out of the muck comes the beauty.
This time I think I'll take it a bit deeper and say, the perceived muck is often the beauty.
One in the same.
Damn Frank, I love you!
I wrote this post last weekend and this week it has become clear that Frank has regained a small bit of her sight. This is pretty much a miracle as the vet told me not to hold onto hope for this. It's not much, but it's enough to navigate a step beyond where she was before (she can get into my bed now on her own for instance). She is still at ease, not jumpy, relaxed, happy. And pretty much the bomb. I trust that things will continue to unfold for her in a supportive, and healthy manner. And I will be there for her each step of the way.
Damn Frank, I love you!