I dog and puppy sat yesterday and with a quiet house to myself, several hours without internet, my laptop and two notebooks I thought I’d get loads done.
Silly me. Poppy is such a joy. Quick and willing to learn – she already understands several basic commands and adores praise. Of course I played with her. A lot. I didn’t write a word!
Tilly has been wonderful with her which surprised me as Tilly generally doesn’t like other dogs. But Poppy is very respectful and courteous around Tilly and doesn’t keep jumping all over her as she does the other dogs.
Today I realised that that clever little pup probably knew what was wrong with Tilly before I did. Or at least before I admitted it to myself.
She’s always had poor sight. Before she came to us, she was scratched across her eye by a cat. Wasn’t the cat’s fault. The two of them had been left locked in a conservatory for hours on end. The cat probably got fed up being shut in with a bored energetic pup.
We only found out about that when we had her vet records transferred to our vet. I thought she'd get over her fear and hatred of cats and despite my cats being gentle and kind, she never trusted them.
Over the years she’s hurt her eyes twice more – both times rummaging round in bramble bushes.
In recent months she’s been quieter, calmer. At times contemplative and wistful. She’s fallen off my bed a couple of times during the night and has taken to raiding the kitchen bin. Silly old thing I thought.
Yesterday she walked into the frame of the garden swing.
Out on our walks, she barks and bounces waiting for me to throw the ball, then when I throw it she leaves Indy to rush off after it. Getting lazy in her old age I thought. I even teased her about it.
The signs were all there weren’t they?
Today I realised she cannot see the ball. That is why she doesn’t chase it. She can’t see. That is why she walks at my side instead of running round the field like she used to. That is why when she is on her lead, she walks pressed up against Indy’s side. Why when she hears a dog barking she flies into a panic and starts to pull like a steam train.
She is coping with this better than I am. I am devastated thinking of her in a world of darkness. But she’s always been a problem solver and despite spaniels having a reputation for being daft and a bit scatty, she’s very intelligent. As long as we don’t move any furniture and everything stays the same, I think she’ll cope fine.
My friend had a blind dog. They learned never to move furniture as he knew precisely where everything was, but they had an interior wall knocked through and for the rest of his life, her dog used to walk very carefully through where the doorway used to be.
I feel very sad right now, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from dogs it’s that they don’t do self pity, not really. Indy will have a go now and then at playing the old soldier, but on the whole they accept what life throws at them and get on with it.
I’m going to find her a ball with bells – after all, she still wants to play and she hasn't gone deaf yet - except when it suits her.