It’s been gradually happening to my furry best friend. She’s old. And now she’s blind. Lately she’s having trouble hearing anything but a high-pitched sound. It’s sad to watch the gradual decline. It seems unfair, since I am now the young one between the two of us. When did that happen?
Thirteen years ago we brought her home from the pet store! Just 8 weeks old, a sweet little Yorkie/Chihuahua mix, with a personality all her own. It didn’t take her long to win the hearts of everyone she met. Including my parents, who quickly became doting grandparents. That dog loves her Grammy and Grampy!
Blind Molly has seen a lot in her life. She’s now living in her 3rd house. In all this time she’s watched her teenage sisters grow up, was by my side through a messy divorce, became anxious when her sisters left home chewing through a few doorframes, watched me date a couple men – barked at the wrong ones – then wagged her tail and fell in love with the right one!
That man, my husband, came with a big furry dog of his own, named Woof. He had the heart of a teddy bear, and most days let Molly eat out of his dish, while he lifted his head to watch. Patient guy he was. He became a companion pet to my tiny blind dog. Sadly Woof passed away from cancer this past summer. In a way, blind Molly has lived to see a lot.
The spring before I moved in with my husband, I noticed Molly’s right eye was cloudy. Occasionally she missed hitting objects as she walked by them on the right. A visit to the vet confirmed it was cataracts. Prognosis – she would likely become blind. Given her age, he wasn’t sure cataract surgery would have good results. Let alone the cost. He did assure me that many dogs go on to live a comfortable life. They can adapt. Many do.
So I took Molly home. I watched and waited. My hope was she would still have sight in one eye by the time we were in her 3rd home. She needed to get familiar with her surroundings, before everything went dark. The August we moved in, Molly’s left eye was starting to cloud over. But she did see enough to manage the stairs, and generally get the lay of the land. Six months after moving into the new house, she was completely blind.
Most days at home Molly sleeps in one of her 3 beds, spread throughout the house. When she gets up, you hear the familiar thud of a wall or piece of furniture. She seems to be walking more cautiously these days, always the back feet placed slowly down as she hopes to avoid a wall. She is still independent. She wants to move around to wherever the food smells best! Yes, she’s lost a couple senses, but the sense of smell is there.
I’ve learned a lot living with a blind dog.
Respect for Age
Some may say she’s looking a little mangier these days. Her eyes run a lot. It’s hard to clean the staining now. But I still see the cute puppy. And she’s earned my respect, by being my faithful companion. I try to remember that, on the days she is most needy of my attention. Or when she has another one of her accidents on the floor. She deserves to be here – it is clear she still wants to. I can’t help but think that when I watch her wag her tail when we come home. Patience is something she is teaching me, more and more each day.
A Jingly Bell Collar
Make sure they wear one. This can be a lifesaver. Or a dog saver! Especially if they are tiny. That way you are more likely to hear them before you step on them when they’ve wandered underfoot! And when you want to find them, being deaf, she doesn’t always come to the sound of my voice, but I listen for the bell.
Texture Changes on Floor Surface
Use your floor surface and it’s texture as a way to define spaces underfoot. Provide maps to things. Make sure there are mats at doors, mats at food/water dishes, or to mark the entry to a room. Different floors, like hardwood to carpet, mean different rooms and provide a sense of direction. It gives them an idea where they are going or coming from.
Love and a Warm Lap
A warm lap. Show affection and love. Get ready to offer them often. A blind dog gets immense comfort from touch. Feeling the warmth of you under them and around them is very comforting. And yes, some days it can be trying.
Furniture Stays Put
Furniture. It should stay put. Keep things the same. Avoid the urge to re-decorate. Remove objects from the floor. This should be self-explanatory. But my husband had to point that one out to me a couple of times! I’ve brought a suitcase and computer bag and laid them right in the middle of the floor. I’ve left a vacuum in the hall. All are unknown obstacles in the path of a blind dog. She’s lucky her Dad is so perceptive!
Something to Dominate – Critical to Dog Esteem
Your dog needs to feel important, like they haven’t lost all their mojo. Imagine how you would feel as you start to lose control of your body. You cling to independence with every breath. For Molly, the urge to dominate is satisfied through a stuffed moose. Bigger than her, she has taken pleasure from dominating it over the years. And when she became blind, I noticed she seemed more sullen. Till my husband suggested we find the moose. We brought it right under her nose. Then she had at it, just like the old days. She found her mojo! These days the moose stays close by bed #2, so it is just a scent away.
I recently discovered something online, which may provide independence to Molly. I was so excited, that I ordered it right away. I am surprised I never discovered it earlier. It’s called Muffin’s Halo http://www.muffinshalo.com/order-white-halo.php.
A woman in Los Angeles developed it for her blind dog. It straps on around the dog’s chest and collar area, while holding up a sturdy halo-like tube. It’s this tube, well in front of the dog’s head, that acts as an early warning system when approaching walls, or things. I have watched video testimonials and this appears to work on little dogs and big ones. It’s made a difference in how confident and freely the dogs will walk. My hope is this new device will give Molly some of the ability she lost due to blindness.
Wouldn’t that be an awesome gift for my furry best friend!