Having a dog in your life is like having a child that appreciates you.

The initial reasoning behind searching the rescue websites was to find a four-legged companion for walking. A furry friend who would also make me feel safe when roaming around in the woods or walking the hills. A loving dog but with a protective instinct towards me, maybe a rottweiler or an Irish wolfhound. So I scoured the local rescues…

and then I fell in love….

with a deaf and blind border collie! All thought of opening my home, and heart, to a big scary dog forgotten. I tried to use my head and reasoned with myself that I’d no experience with owning dogs, never mind a deaf and blind one. Despite all the possible challenges of doing this I found myself drawn to his picture and his story more strongly than many more ‘suitable’ dogs.

Luckily for Snow, unlike many other rescue dogs who are housed in kennels till they find a home, he had been placed with loving foster carers who gave him a safe and happy start to life. After an initial telephone conversation I drove to meet with the little guy and his carers. He was adorable, he was also a complete nutcase. But within the first few minutes I was smitten, 7 months later that feeling is just as strong. He is my world.

Of course I still have time for my grown up children and husband but Snow is my little white shadow. He makes me smile. He melts my heart. All the hard work that people insisted he was going to be, isn’t hard and doesn’t feel like work. It feels like an opportunity to connect to and enrich the life of another being. The frequent comments of ‘you are so good taking him on’ are well intended but are also way off the mark. If those offering the comments could see my heart, and understand what he has done for me, the words would become ‘you were made for each other’.

Before he came to live with me I hardly left the house unless either my husband or children wanted to come out with me. Since my husband works away most of the time and my children are no longer at that age where the mere mention of a picnic will have them queuing by the front door, my treks into the great outdoors were few and far between.

But Snow has changed that, he has in fact changed my life. Out as soon as it gets light, exploring places that I had no idea existed, splodging through muddy fields, all the time watching his face and the pleasure that quite clearly shows upon it. The delight he expresses when the wind blows in his face is something else, even on days that it’s strong enough to turn his ears inside out. The joy he gets from running on his long lead and the way he meticulously stores the myriad of smells into some unknown doggy filing system. He reminds me of a child when they are still young enough to sense magic and wonder in everything.

Something else happened too after Snow and I started walking. People became less scary. Not all of them, but those with their own four-legged companions. Admittedly I still don’t know some of the human’s names that I see on a regular basis. They are referred to as ‘Ruby’s Mum’ or ‘Poppy’s Dad’ but there seems to be an unspoken code amongst dog walkers that it’s not only okay, but almost expected that you will stop and chat about your  dogs on passing.

Snow quickly became known in the ‘dog walking circle’. Being 99% white, deaf and heavily vision impaired is quite memorable I guess. He’s also such a gentle soul that he tends to capture the heart of all that meet him. People want to learn about him, which is great as it gives me the opportunity to explain exactly what a double merle is and how it’s totally avoidable, but I’ll save the technical stuff for another blog.

As I sit and write this he is laying by my feet, snoozing. Just close enough so that when he stirs he can lift his head, check I’m still there and then drift back off again. It’s windy and raining heavily outside. Instead of heading back to the safety of my bed as I would have done 6 months ago I will shortly don my rather fetching waterproof apparel, pull on my wellies and head off out. He shows no concern regarding the weather and has taught me to do the same. He also doesn’t care what I look like. This is just as well because morning make up quickly became a thing of the past when he entered my life. I no longer worry that I’ve left the hair straighteners on because they don’t get plugged in anymore anyway. It’s not that he wouldn’t give me time to do these things if I wanted to it’s just that they no longer seem as important as they did. He has taught me to reassess my priorities.

He has also taught me that wearing black is no longer a good idea, that carpets are meant to be covered in mud and dog hair and that to expect to eat peanut butter ever again without a waiting, upturned face pressed against my knee is a foolish notion. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A fellow walker referred to dogs as ‘furry four-legged angels’. Although not usually open to any reference which might sound religious or new agey, I have to confess in this instance, I couldn’t agree more.





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