Mobile, Alabama. Morningtime. I was meeting someone important.

I pulled into the parking lot of Toomey’s Beads & Bulk Mardi Gras Supply on Macrae Avenue. Which is the kind of store you will not find in any city but Mobile.

Toomey’s is a 70,000 square-foot warehouse that represents one of the largest Mardi Gras supply inventories in the nation. Which is only fitting because Mobile is the official birthplace of American Mardi Gras.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Mobile, Alabama’s Mardi Gras bash is the oldest official Carnival celebration in the United States, started in 1703, shortly after the birth of Dick Clark.

But I wasn’t at Toomey’s to buy supplies for Fat Tuesday. I was here to meet Oscar.

At 11:30 a.m. Oscar arrived. The SUV pulled in. Oscar was accompanied by his handler, Andi.

Andi stepped out of her vehicle and opened the back door. Oscar was on a leash. His tail wagged. His entire backside was gyrating.

The easygoing bluetick hound came stepping out of the backseat. All legs.

He was your quintessential bluetick. White, with salt-and-pepper ticking. Velvet black ears long enough to qualify as safety hazards. A nose the size of a regulation tennis ball.

A collar around his neck was labeled, BLIND DOG.

“Oscar can’t see,” said his handler. “He has no eyes.”

Oscar’s face is beautiful. Classic hound. Except there are no twinkling brown eyes looking at you. They were surgically removed because of congenital glaucoma.

This is why he walks with a unique gait. He lifts his front paws carefully. Gingerly. Every move he makes is with extreme care. He uses his nose to guide himself.

I could see him taking in his surroundings, using only his sense of smell. Muzzle aimed upward in the air. Testing each scent in the wind.

“His nose is how he sees,” said Jenn Greene, his mother and rescuer. “He can see everything with his nose.”

I squatted low. I called his name in a high-pitched voice.

I am a dog guy. My best friends have always had fleas.

Oscar followed the sound of my voice. Then he barreled into me lovingly. Head to my chest. And he smelled me, just to get a better sense of who I was.

When he determined I was okay, Oscar plopped onto the pavement to let me conduct a thorough massage of his tummy region.

Customers coming and going from Toomey’s paused to snap photographs of him. Because it’s not every day you see a dog like Oscar.

Somehow, Oscar seemed to know whenever someone was taking his photo. He would sit upright and aim his head right at the camera.

“How does he know I’m taking his picture?” asked one passerby.

“Oscar knows everything,” said Jenn.

A few years ago, Jenn adopted Oscar from the Monroe County Animal Shelter. Oscar was 11 weeks old, and in bad shape. He had been dropped off by a breeder. He had a lot of problems.

Namely, his sight was going. The surgeon tried to save his eyes to no avail. They removed Oscar’s eyes, then sewed his eyelids shut.

“It was pitiful,” said Jenn. “I remember hearing him cry in his kennel when he was recovering from surgery. His little puppy voice just howled. He didn’t understand why he had stitches in his eyes.”

Today, two red eyebrows hover on a midnight face, just above his two ocular scars. It gives his face the look of a hound who is perpetually sleeping.

“I knew I’d be taking on a dog with lots of health issues,” said Jenn. “But it’s okay, because this is my baby. He is my whole life.

“The vet gives me an automatic fifty-percent discount because we live half the year in the waiting room.”

I petted him, and Oscar shed his silken coat all over me. I wore his hair with pride. And when he pressed his cold nose against me to “see” me better, I was honored that he would care enough about me to want to see me at all.

He ran his nose along my feet, up my thigh, around my midsection, upon my hands, my arms, and my neck.

I sat cross-legged on the pavement as he rested his nine-pound head on my shoulder. We were soon entangled in what could only be called a hug.

And I found myself wishing I could be half the man Oscar is.

A woman walking into the store paused to look at Oscar. It took the woman a moment to realize that Oscar was blind. The woman seemed surprised by this.

She came in for a closer look.

“This dog has no eyes,” the woman remarked.

“He doesn’t need eyes,” Oscar’s mother said. “He sees with his heart.”

55 comments

  1. Debbie - September 12, 2022 7:02 am

    You’re so funny! “My best friends have always had fleas”! 🤗

    If only we could all see with our heart. What a good lesson from Oscar.😊

    Reply
    • Leigh Amiot - September 12, 2022 9:32 am

      That line tickled me, too, Debbie.
      Thank you, Sean, for introducing us to Oscar.
      And kudos to the compassionate vet!

      Reply
  2. oldlibrariansshelf - September 12, 2022 8:00 am

    The one gift better than a dog’s love is the writer who paints such an amazing picture of it. Wow!

    Reply
  3. PMc - September 12, 2022 8:23 am

    This made my heart happy, thank you!
    Peace and Love from Birmingham 🐕

    Reply
  4. Nan - September 12, 2022 9:09 am

    ❤️

    Reply
  5. Debbie - September 12, 2022 9:23 am

    May we all see with our hearts.

    Reply
  6. Ron Mahn - September 12, 2022 9:59 am

    Ah Sean if we all could see first with our heart then our eyes …

    Reply
  7. Trudy - September 12, 2022 10:02 am

    Thank you for introducing us to Oscar. What a special person Jenn is for adopting a baby with so many health issues. I believe Jenn sees with her heart also.

    Reply
  8. Ed Caldwell (Bear) - September 12, 2022 10:29 am

    Trudy took the words right out of my mouth. I see what you meant by “meeting someone important”

    Reply
  9. Kathy - September 12, 2022 11:09 am

    I just love this 🐾🐾🐾

    Reply
  10. Dolores - September 12, 2022 11:09 am

    I dare say Oscar’s Mom also sees with her heart. (From a Mom of a one-eyed cat who perpetually winks.)

    Great closings sentences: let’s start the week with a vow to do the same as ole Oscar. Amen

    Reply
  11. Diana - September 12, 2022 11:26 am

    Thank you for another beautiful story.

    Reply
  12. Kathy - September 12, 2022 11:34 am

    Love this ,my sweet ruby had to have her eyes removed due to Glaucoma.

    Reply
  13. mccutchen52 - September 12, 2022 11:58 am

    With or without eyes dogs just know things..

    Reply
  14. sflouden - September 12, 2022 12:02 pm

    That has to be one of the sweetest stories I have ever heard. No one could have told it like you however. thanks

    Reply
  15. Janie McCallister - September 12, 2022 12:08 pm

    What a wonderful story. We rescued two very special friends. One is totally deaf. She was picked up by animal control while living on the streets. She is a beautiful dog but never had a loving home. She was scared. We named her Chicha and she knows sign language and she is so loving (sometimes she can be really bad but we love her anyway). Her best friend is our newly rescued Zeus. We rescued him at 2 months old and he is now 6 months but he has severe aortic stenosis and his life span is around 2 years. I work at a college in the nursing department and Zeus comes to work with me. The students love him and he is their therapy on test days. He is a big part of our nursing school family. I can honestly say that these sweet family members change you forever. They never give up or feel sorry for themselves and they are so loving. We think we are giving them a new and improved life….but in truth, they are giving it to us and teaching us every day what true love is. They change you forever.

    Reply
  16. Nancy Turner - September 12, 2022 12:12 pm

    My sweet Maggie Belle had to have her eyes removed due to glaucoma. She was extraordinary, just like Oscar. Thank you for this story. I had to say good-bye to my Maggie Belle last year but this story reminded me of how brave and resilient she was.

    Reply
  17. Beverly Smiley - September 12, 2022 12:15 pm

    Tears tears tears! Your emotional tug on my heart is enormous! Thank you Sean!!

    Reply
  18. Val - September 12, 2022 1:02 pm

    They all do.

    Reply
  19. Fran - September 12, 2022 1:09 pm

    Beautiful 👏👏👏

    Reply
  20. David Britnell - September 12, 2022 1:32 pm

    Beautiful story!

    Reply
  21. Becky Cruz - September 12, 2022 2:01 pm

    What a wonderful story! My youngest daughter has a special rescue…he’s a deaf Blue Heeler named, as he should be, Blue. Blue was bred to be a cattle dog – most Blue Heeler’s are. When his owners discovered he was deaf and that he couldn’t be a working cattle dog, they were going to put him down. In stepped my daughter. Everyone says she rescued Blue, but Blue rescued her right back. He has become the Emotional Support Animal that she didn’t know she needed. She’s taught him sign language. It’s the most special bond I’ve ever seen. Cheers to the Jenn’s and Jordan’s of the world – other wise we may never hear about the Oscar’s and Blue’s of the world!

    Reply
  22. Jerry York - September 12, 2022 2:12 pm

    That last line is priceless. We should all be more like Oscar in that respect.

    Reply
  23. Chasity Davis Ritter - September 12, 2022 2:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing what you see with your heart with all of US. Oscar sounds like a truly wonderful dog to get to meet.

    Reply
  24. Bill Henderson - September 12, 2022 2:24 pm

    What a sweet, sweet story! Thank you SO very much for sharing!

    Reply
  25. Pat - September 12, 2022 2:35 pm

    If only………….if only we could be the person our dog thinks we are!

    Reply
    • wfsuga - September 12, 2022 8:11 pm

      Love this line, Pat. Thanks. It will be my mantra for today.

      Reply
  26. Karen - September 12, 2022 3:17 pm

    My blue tick came to me, also badly damaged, after sticking her curious nose in a kill trap. We both survived the healing, and now she is mine. And I am hers. Her name? Trapper, of course!

    Reply
  27. oldandblessed - September 12, 2022 3:17 pm

    Oscar, the heart-seeing dog. It would be great if more humans would see that way. Seeing heart to heart. Understanding might be more percise.

    Reply
  28. Christine Cook - September 12, 2022 3:20 pm

    God love her for adopting Oscar and taking such good care of him
    Two very special souls!

    Reply
  29. Peggy M. Windham - September 12, 2022 3:22 pm

    You sure know how to make a woman cry, Sean! This story is so precious!! I’m a dog girl and just lost one of my Mini Schnauzers, my Gabbie! All I can say is there’s a very special crown for people like Jenn for rescuing the animals no one else wants! And for Oscar…he will have his eyes back the minute his feet hit the Rainbow Bridge! Not that he’ll need them of course! Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story! God bless your heart, Oscar!🐾💜🙏🐾💜

    Reply
  30. Kip - September 12, 2022 3:26 pm

    I’m not crying. You are!

    Reply
  31. Susan - September 12, 2022 3:45 pm

    So glad that this wonderful,person gave Oscar a wonderful home! Thank you.❤️🥩🦴🐾❤️

    Reply
  32. sjhl7 - September 12, 2022 4:13 pm

    What an awesome person to give Oscar such love and care. Oscar is very special too!

    Reply
  33. Patricia Gibson - September 12, 2022 4:39 pm

    God bless Oscar and his Mom❤️❤️

    Reply
  34. Mary - September 12, 2022 5:11 pm

    There you go again, making water leak out of my eyes.

    Reply
  35. Roger - September 12, 2022 5:26 pm

    Thanks for getting me choked up!

    Reply
  36. Carol Pilmer - September 12, 2022 5:28 pm

    May we all see more with our heart!

    Reply
  37. Michelle - September 12, 2022 5:30 pm

    Tears of love with this story – for Oscar, Jenn and the vet that helps make his treatment more affordable. ❤️

    Reply
  38. Joyce Wise Dodd - September 12, 2022 5:54 pm

    This is beautifully told. Humbling for humans

    Reply
  39. Cindy - September 12, 2022 7:45 pm

    How could anyone not love Oscar? 🥰 So thankful he has someone that adores him.

    Reply
  40. Ruth Ann Hines - September 12, 2022 7:47 pm

    This posting makes me love Sean even more (if possible!)!

    Reply
  41. Patricia Taylor - September 12, 2022 8:39 pm

    Wonderful story…you make us all “see” what you are telling! In my mind’s eye, I could see Oscar and fell in love with him too. Glad he was adopted byJenn….what a blessing they both are…thank you for sharing this….I had a stray cat that came to our house in very bad shape…nearly starved. I fed her and she ended up adopting me for keeps. It was a couple of years after my husband had passed away and I think God knew I needed her. I named her Miss Kitty…I rock her and sing to her and at night we have a goodnight prayer…she loves all of it and I love it too. I feel bad for animals that are neglected and /or mistreated. She loves everybody who comes here and they love her too…She’s a real sweetheart. I thank God for her. The Bible says that not even a Sparrow falls that the Lord knows about and cares…and so should we.

    Reply
  42. Linda Moon - September 12, 2022 9:43 pm

    I would love to see Oscar. I had a deaf dog who learned ASL and a blind cat who lived a long, happy life except for occasionally walking into a wall instead of around it. I’ve known all kinds of people….sighted and unsighted, hearing and non-hearing who see and listen with their heart. And a writer I read everyday sees with his heart, too.

    Reply
  43. Debbie - September 13, 2022 12:00 am

    My dog is blind from diabetes. He gets around though, as long as he’s in a familiar place and nothing is out of place. He’s a sweet little boy. He has been through so much with metal plates in two legs , diabetes, his eyes, his pancreas. The last time he was in the hospital, the vet thought he wouldn’t make it, but he sure did. His name is Asher and I love him sooo much.❤️🐕🐾

    Reply
  44. Denise DeVries - September 13, 2022 1:53 am

    I want to meet him. Love without first sight.

    Reply
  45. Kay Keel - September 13, 2022 3:23 am

    That last line again, Sean! I will add this… and would that we all saw with our hearts!

    Reply
  46. Mary Spechko - September 13, 2022 10:33 am

    Beautiful story about an amazing doggie. Thank you!

    Reply
  47. JOHN R GRIDER DVM - September 13, 2022 2:40 pm

    In your column about Oscar you mentioned the Monroe County Animal Shelter, That goup does so much good with so little funding from the city and county govenments I stay amazed. They have their detracters of course but most of the grumbles have no idea of the HErculean task Tricia Davis perform daily. There might be a column somewhere in there,

    Reply
  48. Dewayna Tigner - September 13, 2022 4:48 pm

    What a beautiful message about animals with special needs! Thank you!

    Reply
  49. Alease M Perry - September 14, 2022 2:55 am

    My friend had a blind lab…their ability to adapt is amazing. Loved meeting Oscar.

    Reply
  50. Bo - September 14, 2022 3:51 pm

    I just saw a Pug yesterday with no eyes, her name is “Helen Smeller”

    Reply
  51. Carolyn Geck - September 15, 2022 2:54 am

    Beautiful story of love!❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  52. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - September 15, 2022 10:01 pm

    ❤️

    Reply
  53. Susie Flick - September 17, 2022 2:48 am

    My heart is overflowing with love for Oscar!

    Reply

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