Guest Blogger | "Two Eyes Blind and the View is Beautiful" (Part 1 & 2) | Article and Photos by Sandy Miller

Sandy and Snoopy, who's now "Kirby!"
Dear Friends, The following 2 posts are from a dear artist friend of mine, Sandy Miller. Sandy Miller is a superbly talented potter in Painesville, Ohio--right outside Cleveland.

She is a very gregarious, caring person and her wonderful energy comes through in her writing. I'm sharing this in the WWN because she recently adopted a blind rescue dog, and has been having many heartwarming adventures acclimating him to house and studio life. 

As so many of you know, we often times think we are rescuing animals, but in the end, they end up rescuing us. Enjoy, Alicia


As many know I have been hunting around for a studio buddy for a while now. Butch [Sandy's husband] swears there is a mark on the curb and random creatures just show up looking for the sucker who lives here. After leaving Lakeland [College] a few months back I looked up a very full moon and announced; Well if you want to send something, now would be a pretty good time. I waited, another month passed and nothing showed up. So I thought I would take a teensy little look at a couple of my favorite adoption sites. Nope, nothing screamed: "Hey, I'm looking at you, come get me!"  Until two days ago.

 Not even sure why I went to the site I did as I had never been on the APL site before.

I scrolled down the page and there at the bottom I saw this face.

I carefully read his bio and thought "hmmmm, can I handle this," but then it said partially blind so I called and talked to one of the kennel workers. Got all the preliminaries and then she came on the line and said; Someone is looking at him check the website in the morning if his picture is still up he is still available.

I thought well if it's meant to be he will be there.

I didn't sleep much, got up the next morning and checked the APL site, he was still there. I went for a 4 mile jog/walk and cleared my head. I really wanted a fishing buddy, jogging buddy, studio buddy, walking buddy and wondered just how partially blind he was. I showered, thought some more, jumped in my truck and made the trek to Cleveland. Through the Republican National Convention insanity [note: which was hosted in Cleveland], wondering if there were any cops left anywhere else in the US as they were all in Cleveland. I wound my way through the streets of Cleveland and found Wiley Ave. and the APL. The place was hop'n, not a parking space left! I thought for sure this dog would be gone, but he wasn't.

I asked to see him, filled out a bit of paperwork and then I was escorted to see "Snoopy." He was calm, in a cacophony of barking dogs. Big, little, medium mutts, round about town mutts, puppies and more than I could count but it was deafening. All crying out for attention and little love. I pressed my hand to the kennel and he pressed back with his nose. Yup, I want to see him. A very nice kennel worker said: She wants to see the blind the dog to two other woman working at the desk. I got a quick once over and a smile. All three said; He is so sweet and gentle. The kennel worker got him on the leash and we were going to take him outside but he could not see the pipe running across the kennel floor and he sure did not want to leave the kennel. I immediately became aware of just how blind Snoopy was, like a bat! We coaxed him out ever so gently and tried to get him through the front door. So careful with every step, feeling his way out of the kennel and into sunlight. On shaky legs and squinty eyes he felt the sun on his face and smelled the petunias growing at the entrance of the APL....... he watered one. He never got comfortable so we decided to take him back in. As we approached the front door I said; I'll take him. He was going to be a project, but everything we had asked him to do he did, to the point of shaking so badly he had a hard time standing. Yes, this is a dog I can work with and who will give his all. As we approached his kennel, his neighbor Franky, an older beagle mix who looked to be on the lamb a bit too long, barked incessantly. But I noticed Snoopy calmed as he heard Frankie and as we got closer to the kennel. He entered with no problem, collapsed on the floor and fell asleep. Snoop's big day out!

We went out to the desk to fill out the appropriate paper work and pay the bill. I got his medical records stating he had been in a horrible dog fight with an Akita, apparently lost the fight and the owner couldn't pay for his needed surgeries so was turned over to the APL. They patched him up, neutered him, caught him up on all his vaccinations, heart worm and kennel shots and gave him a safe place. All this for $95.00 plus the cost of a license; $27.50. They asked for my drivers license and typed up the information. She looked down and said; So you're over 60? Yes, but let's not talk about that and you just had a birthday? Yes, but let's not talk about that either. Well we have a sponsor who is going to pay for half your adoption fee. I felt like I won the lottery and almost said; Great, I'll take one more!! But I stopped myself, knowing I had project in front of me.

All paperwork complete, an announcement was made over the loud speaker; SNOOPY, OUR BLIND DOG IS GOING TO HIS FOREVER HOME AND IF YOU WANT TO SAY GOODBYE COME TO THE FRONT. A host workers came up to say goodbye and see who is adopting this great dog. I hoped I passed muster. We had our picture taken and we walked out the front door. While the super nice kennel worker (and I do wish I could remember her name!) Held Snoopy while I dashed for my truck. I arrived curbside and thought I would just pick him up and put him in the backseat. First time I bent down and realized Snoopy is a tank! I couldn't lift him! Heather, another kennel assistant came out, hoisted him in the truck and we were off to a new home and a new adventure.

The hour drive home was stressful, on Snoopy and me. I drove with one hand on the wheel, my other hand behind seat on Snoop's head or chest or back. He was terrified. I kept telling him what a great dog he was and we were almost there. And then we finally got there...... longest ride ever. I opened the back door of the truck and he heard the waterfall in the pond. Of course I thought, he's a retriever!

I very gently eased him out of the truck and onto the driveway. He made a bee line to the pond and the smells, oh the smells. There was furious tail wagging, and then grass, so much grass. He pee'd, he pooped and he wagged some more. He was so happy! He found the chicken coop but where were the chickens? He found the groundhog hole but where was the ground hog? He found the skunks hidey hole but where was the skunk? I prayed the skunk would stay in his hidey hole and didn't show up anytime soon. One by one, Rufus appeared and then Ralphie. They were shocked! I assured everyone we would all get along and Snoopy just loved cats but they were not buying it and and retreated behind the big maple tree. Both peering out from the safety of the maple as we made our way back to the house. 
So much coaxing to get him in the house, we made it. I got him a big bowl of water and he drank like a camel coming off the Sahara. I took the leash off and he started the methodical survey of every nook and cranny in the back room. He never knocked anything over, he was ever so careful and so very slowly put one paw out in front, feeling his way around the perimeter of the room. Once he got his bearings he started to pace. Rufus glared through the back door. I went out the door and picked up Rufus, got a nuzzle and then he scramble to get down. Rufus stood by my feet and watched the big dog in his back room. Disgusted he walked away. Oh I am sure he will be back.

For three hours he paced, never sitting, or laying just constantly on the move. I made coffee and watched. Shortly around 5 pm he collapsed on the floor. His head erect, his eyes closed, simply exhausted. Finally the head went down. I sat down..... what a day.

Last night I walked him around the yard. He walked in the back room, freely and no coaxing this time. I turned out the lights, kissed him goodnight and promised to see him in the morning.

This morning, at 5:30 am. I turned the light on to check on him, walked down the two stairs that are his Berlin Wall and he stirred. I said good morning so quietly. He got up, never opening his eyes, laid his head on my knees and snuggled in with the biggest smile of contentment a dog could have. You're home buddy, you're home. We are gonna be great together!

Part 2

"The Future is Clear and Bright..."

Oh how a life can change in 10 days since my last post. Life has been pretty full, in fact there were days I would call it overflowing. I am learning, Kirby is learning....... yes, I changed his name; either that or buy a zig zag brown shirt, a red baron hat and a friend called Linus. He responds to Kirby and eats everything off the floor so it seemed to fit. Just like he fits in this old house, we three call home, and an occasional interloper called, Rufus.

I am now jumping out of bed at 5:30 a.m. grabbing a leash and waiting for me is this face. We have our customary 30 second meet and greet, then hit the backyard, tree lawn and navigate up the driveway to the house for breakfast. Kirby eats while I make coffee.

Food and treats have taken a couple days to figure out. The kibble sent home with him was too big. He had had three teeth extracted from his run in with the Akita and I think the big stuff was just tough to eat. Luckily they make the same stuff in small bites and I added 1/3 can of something called tender chunks that make me want to blow chunks but it was the ticket, it stayed down and he was happy! Tail wags all around. Phew! Entering the realm of treats, who knew there would be an aisle, yes and aisle of treats........ I stepped away when I read a bag called; Better Than Pig Ears. Pass on that "treat" and bought 5 others. I ran home and opened package after package. 4 brands where taken excitedly, rolled around the discerning pallet and spit on the floor; Nope. The last package which I thought for sure would be a dud; Hollywood Stars, peanut butter treats for dogs, $1.99 for a package (the cheapest treat on the shelf) 4 paws up and a full drool bar of success! I went back and bought 3 more bags.

After several days of sleeping, experiencing our first thunderstorm in this summer of drought, hanging out, just getting to know each other, it hit me I had work to do. Oh and on that thunderstorm..... he cleared the back room, flipping a table full of potted plants, a couple pedestals with old pots I didn't mind loosing, disconnected the printer when he crawled under the desk; it was nothing short of experiencing a tornado inside your house. The backfire of a car or a neighborhood kid with firecrackers will send him to the moon. The back room is now decorated in early American dog. I went back to the APL and purchased a crate, then off to buy a cushy orthopedic dog bed and more treats. The ace bandage sits above the crate (works like the thunder vest) and I have a bottle of melatonin at the ready. Installed the window air conditioner. Survival gear and if all hope is abandoned, the crate for me! Noises he likes: motorcycles, vacuums and big trucks....... he obviously has history.

Ok back to work. I put the leash on him after three days and walked him out to the studio. I opened the door, he backed away and dropped to his belly shaking. OK, not today. I had asked so much of this dog in three days I was not pushing the studio. We walked back to the house, I opened the door and for the first time he walked across the threshold without being coaxed and laid on the floor. It was enough and he knew this was a safe place. I stroked his head, told him how great he was, he passed out and I went to the studio to work. We did this for 4 days....... the fourth day, with a lot of coaxing, he put one paw in the studio, then the second paw. I cheered, handed out treats but the back end was just not coming in. I put a pile of treats of the floor as he gobbled them up I hoisted the back end of this 90 pound tank into the studio. I took the leash off, he turned around and realized the door had closed. I waited for the tornado but instead he very carefully paced. I turned up the radio, thank the heavens above he likes NPR, and set about my studio routine. He checked out every corner, under every table, he liked the hum of my old Shimpo wheel but never sat down for three hours. He paced and panted. I finally thought this was enough and picked up the leash. When he heard the leash, he danced! We went for a toot around the yard and back to his safe place and a treat. Phew...... but he had made it to the studio! The next day, same routine, however after 30 minutes I looked over my shoulder and saw this:

I had a bed and blankets on the floor but he decided on dirty concrete..... and how happy am I that I work in porcelain and white stoneware! Life's little wonders..... or I would have gotten a brown dog :)

He does well with routine, as do I and there has been a cadence to my day again.  My morning view also includes this guy....... the romance is going very slow but he is coming around.

Hey, whadda ya do'in?

This is gross...... who eats this stuff? 

We can visit from the safety of your window ....... for now.

Kirby has had his nose swiped once but not been deterred and Rufus really needs a snuggle along with his ears and butt scratched everyday so eventually they will figure it out. I anticipate once the days grow short and cold and the wood stove is fired up, we will see détente and the cold war will ease.

I never thought this blind dog would join me on the long walks and hikes I love so much but to my amazement he will. In 10 days he has made one entire lap around the cemetery, 1 mile. Wild cheering on my part! He seems to want to go, his energy level and smell expectations are grand! We have walked to the corner of the street. Other dogs freak him out a bit as does the traffic on the road.... me too so we will find quiet places to hike. Kirby likes to go to the same destinations and each time it is easier for him. He is not of fan of walking at night and tends to walk to the street lights, so he can see some light. He bumps into things ..... a lot. I have learned when he bumps into me I should not jump out of his way but let him because that is how he is building self confidence and getting his bearings. A short leash is a great tool too. We both could use a helmet as we wander through life and boy we both have our bumps and bruises from finding out way...... 

Nice to have a buddy to find it together. He has fit into this old potters life seamlessly.

Next week we tackle porcelain teapots and car rides ......

Sandy Miller is a pottery in Painesville, Ohio. You can keep up with this story on Sandy's blog at, or see some of her pottery at

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