Hut hut hike! Oh boy!

By Mir
December 30, 2013

The big, exciting news from here this week is that Duncan is finally the picture of health. His skin is pink and unblemished, his hair is growing back in where it had been lost, his face is free of irritation, his legs are working well… even his nails are neatly trimmed! Basically Duncan is the poster child for puppy rehabilitation (just so long as you don’t mind your perfect puppy looking like someone smashed him in the face with a frying pan, that is). I remain deeply aggravated by all the things that were wrong with him (and how uncomfortable he must’ve been, poor pumpkin) when he came to us, because I have very few skills, but holding a grudge is one of them.

Never before has a dog looked so perfect. I mean, he even strikes a pose for the camera:

(Okay, that’s a lie. He doesn’t pose for the camera. He does, however, make himself look awfully cute while you’re waving a plate of food nearby. Thanks to assistant Chickadee and her breakfast for that photo.)

Anyway! Everything’s FANTASTIC with Duncan! There’s just this one teensy little problem. Hardly a problem at all, really. I mean, surely even if we’d known, it would’ve fallen in the category of “no biggie.” I mean, I assume. On account of his general sweetness and goodness as a dog. I’m just saying it might’ve been nice to know, is all.

Turns out… Duncan is blind. Like, almost 100% blind.

I brought him in to the vet for a follow-up, and also because he had a funny-looking little thing on his eyelid that I wanted checked out (because I am nothing if not a neurotic mother to children and animals alike), and during the exam I mentioned that “We’ve noticed that he doesn’t seem to see very well.” I waited for the vet to tell me that that was silly, but instead he shined a flashlight across Duncan’s face a couple of times and then told the lab tech to “come take a look at this.” The tech whistled a quiet, low whistle as he watched.

Duncan’s pupils are fixed and unreactive to light. One eye doesn’t respond at all, and the other provides “a small flicker of activity.” In other words: He can’t see. He’s blind. He needs a tiny little white cane taped to one of his front paws, and our attempts to explain to Licorice that she needs to be Duncan’s seeing-eye dog have fallen on deaf ears. (No, Licorice isn’t deaf. She’s just a selfish jerk.)

So many things make sense now! His hesitation with stairs, how he circles the perimeter of whatever piece of furniture Licorice is taunting him from, the way he pokes at the water dish if it’s not really full, his signature snap at food and toys like he’s hunting instead of just retrieving the object of his desire. And, of course, you have to give the little guy props for being with us an entire month and none of us dummies realizing that his weirdness about things like our inside stairway (in retrospect, even though he goes up and down the outside stairs multiple times a day, the stairway with a landing/turn in it must be confusing for him, hence his initial habit of climbing halfway and then crying) was due to his lack of vision. Granted, he didn’t land with a real brain trust in our family, but still.

The discovery of Duncan’s status as a Very Special Pup has—much to Otto’s chagrin—only served to solidify the reality of Duncan’s voice being a lot less JFK and a lot more dopey-football-thug. I don’t know why this is, exactly, except that Duncan came to us doing this funny thing with his toys where he sort of puts them down on the floor and then “hikes” them backwards with his front paws, and somehow this has evolved into a veritable comedy routine courtesy of Chickadee.

Initially it was… “I play football. Hut hut hike!” in the Duncan voice. That’s been going on since he came to live with us.

But ever since The Diagnosis it has evolved into an entire monologue, and it cracks me up EVERY SINGLE TIME and I don’t know why. Now it’s “I play football. Oh yeah. HUT HUT HIKE! I play on a special football team. Oh boy. For dogs. FOR BLIND DOGS. Know our team name? Do you? It’s the Bats. You know why? BECAUSE WE’RE BLIND. And we play football. I am the center. HUT HUT HIKE! Oh yeah! Oh boy! We are going to Nationals next week. To play football. The Bats. That’s us. OH BOY!”

Now all Chickie has to do is say so much as “We’re going to Nationals” in sotto voce and I’m rolling on the floor.

For his part, Duncan then looks around, wondering what’s going on. But sometimes he grabs a nearby ball and hikes it, and then I pretty much laugh until I can’t breathe.

Oh, boy. We set out to adopt a young, healthy dog and ended up with a 7-year-old, allergy-ridden, blind football enthusiast. I would love to tell you this is a surprising turn of events, but are you new here? Of course this is what happened. (In fact, I texted Otto from the vet’s exam room to say “DUNCAN IS BLIND!” and Otto was all “He is? Huh. Hey, what’s for dinner?”) Perspective is the gift that keeps on giving, that’s for sure.

“Oh boy! I can smell you up there! Come down and play!”


  1. Sharon

    I’m so glad he found your family, who can love him like none other. Happy New Year Duncan! You hit the lottery when you moved in with Mir ~

  2. Susan Getgood

    You know the saying about God only gives the special children to the special people? Also true about dogs.

    And you are super special Mir in all the good senses of the word as well as occasionally the humorous ones.

    • Mir

      Eh, I don’t know if I believe that. But I do believe the animals that come to animal lovers are the ones they’re meant to have. Apparently my life was lacking in knowledge about football. Obviously.

  3. jwg

    I expected nothing less.

  4. Angela

    He looks like such a content guy now!

    Also, for some reason, reading his monologue in my head, his voice sounds like the golden retriever from Up.

  5. jen_alluisi

    I am just OVER THE MOON that Duncan found you. Poor guy – how sucky his first 7 years must have been with people who didn’t care enough to address his needs, and how amazing the rest of his life will be living with you guys. I mean, HOW TERRIBLE would it have been for him to live his entire life without his amazing blind football talents being recognized and appreciated?!?!?! Crisis: averted.

    • Mir

      I heard the Bats would never have made it to Nationals without him. ;)

  6. Jacqueline

    Wow, that must be a surprise! It’s funny, I just called to make my cat an appointment with the kitty ophthalmologist. The vet told us that her tear ducts weren’t draining (they put drops in her eyes that glow under a blacklight and then check for glowing in her nose/mouth – she was a little rave kitty with florescent eyeliner!) – possibly because she was born without them! Or she has/had kitty herpes.

  7. Tanis Miller

    I have a blind kid so I don’t really want a blind dog, but I’m thrilled Duncan found a forever team he can quarterback for. Yay you!

    I am looking for a three legged dog. Or better yet, one of those dogs who needs a doggie wheelchair kart thingie. Because Knox totally needs a twinsie and then we can have wheelchair races.

    • Chickadee

      He’s not the quarterback, he’s the center. Hut hut hike!

  8. Kim

    Not to be Miss Downer in the midst of Aww, Poor Cute Dog, but I was hugely relieved that Chickie is waving her breakfast and talking in funny voices. I had a bad moment there after your last post.

  9. liz

    I am so glad that you folks found Duncan and will love him and squeeze him and hug him and give him bacon.

  10. Little Bird

    Blind dog, football, I can’t stop laughing! He’s your Micheal Ore (however you spell it)!! THE BLIND SIDE!!! I’m dying here!!

  11. Karen

    It’s a beautiful thing, that Duncan found you guys… another family might not have taken such good care of him or bothered to figure out his issues. Obviously someone actually dumped him not too very long ago…

    It’s a beautiful thing. :-) Batman, too bad that name doesn’t have as much charm as Duncan.

  12. not supergirl

    This is a BIG thing to leave off the list of potential issues for a new owner. Duncan is a lucky dog to have landed in your house where his talents for football and loving can be properly appreciated.

    Also, yay! You’re still back. I hope all is well or at least settling or moving the right direction.

    • Mir

      I honestly think his former owners didn’t know. Which is a whole ‘nother issue.

  13. LisaKay

    Can we pleeeeaaaaaase have a Duncan football video? Please? Complete with Chickie voiceover? It would make my day!

    • Chickadee

      I’ll see what I can do ;)

  14. Nelson's Mama

    I’m glad Duncan found you too :)

    Missed your last post, been out of town – hope things get better soon, friend.

  15. addy

    Yay for Blind Football Bats! And yes a video would be stellar…… hint hint hint

  16. Brigitte

    Now to teach him how to use bat sonar!

  17. Kristen

    Aw, Duncan.

    What special things does one need to do for a blind dog? (insert tasteless “seeing-eye-dog” joke here?) I imagine it may make walks or trips to the dog park more challenging?

    I think we have discovered that our sweet newly adopted rescue dog has something of an anxiety disorder. Because, of course. We are madly in love with her, neurosis and all. (a dog-with-no-issues really wouldn’t fit in with our family, I suppose!)

    So, we take her out for super-long walks at 6 am and 8 pm when no one else is out. (Tonight’s temperature at 8 pm in WI is -4. It must be true love.)

    Love the pics. Duncan looks so adorably sweet. I’m looking forward to the video. :)

    • Mir

      He’s actually okay on walks; I have a double leash and I figured he would stick close to Licorice, but mostly he just heels to his human and is fine. I mean, I tried to walk him the first week and he was very resistant—whether due to painful feet, at the time, or not fully trusting me yet, I don’t know—but now if I get the harnesses out he’s pretty happy to suit up and head out.

  18. Aimee

    I’d like to second the request for a Duncan football video with Chickie voiceover. I NEED TO HEAR THE “HUT HUT HIKE!”

    What I love about you guys is that you were expecting a young health dog, you got a seven year old blind center for the Bats, and yet it’s still one of the funniest things I’ve read. That’s why he ended up with you — because you can make lemonade out of blind lemons, yo.

  19. Peggy Fry

    my friend had a dog who had been blind for (apparently) at least a year. The only thing they did is get a bell for the collar of the seeing dog. The little blind guy just homed in on that. Maybe a bell on HIS collar would help him “hear” where he is….

  20. Rebecca

    Dogs are so reliant on their sense of smell that they can usually adapt to losing other senses pretty well. If you’re interested in reading more about blind dogs, Rolling Dog Farm animal rescue has a blog full of stories about their pack.

  21. Jeanie

    That makes me feel so bad (that Duncan is blind). Poor little guy. He’s still adorable and couldn’t be in better hands. And just think how much better he must feel!

  22. Chris

    Oh Goodness. Well it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down too much – good for you for catching up and rolling with what life gives you – sometimes I go with the we don’t actually know exactly what we need until it drops in our lap so it looks like you needed the 7 year old football phenon of the pup set.

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