Saturday, 21 May 2011

With Bells

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.


  1. Aww, Teresa!
    But, as her sight has never been really good, Tilly has probably been slowly adapting for a while. Don't know if you've seen this - if not, hope it helps:


  2. One of our cats lost her sight to a large extent and coped well. adapting to it without fuss and leading a contented life. It was hard to watch her at first, but we soon got used to it. We din't like to see her going out at first, but she learned to stay extra safe by using the garden more than the lane.
    I wish lovely Tilly well, although I'm sure she has gradually been adapting without realising it.

  3. We had a blind poodle when I was in my teens. She coped very well. You just need to be careful not to move any furniture, not to put obstacles, i.e. bags, shoes etc., in the way and take care around steps and stairs, and keep a lead on them in strange or crowded places.

  4. How sad but lovely to know how amazing Tilly is. I'm amazed to hear about how they know where walls were before they were knocked down. I of course understand that it makes sense, but just didn't think about it.
    I'm so glad that she gets on so well with your new puppy

  5. Aww Teresa that must be very difficult for both you and Tilly, but the biggest reassurance she has is knowing she is loved and cared for despite her loss of eyesight.

  6. Bless you, Pat that link is great! So many things there I hadn't even thought of. And you are right about her adapting over time. She has found the best way to do things without any help from me.

    Thank you Joanna. Oh that must have been such a worry with your cat.

    Jacula - that's sound advice, thank you and reassuring about your poodle. I've just found some jingly balls on ropes which I've ordered for her.

    Thank you, Jarmara. I was very sad earlier, but feeling more positive now.

    THank you Carol, what a lovely thing to say.

  7. Poor Tilly :o( She is a very clever doggy, she has probably been used to it for some time now, give her a big hug from me (and a lick from Poppy and Oakley of course!) xxx

  8. Yesterday a friend at work was telling me that her dog has been diagnosed with cataracts. They are weighing up whether to book the dog in for surgery. Quite a dilemma, really.

    Animals do seem to adapt well to these problems, and they don't dwell on things in the way we do. It's probably us who have the hard job, worrying about them.

  9. It will all work out Teresa - try not to stress too much! As the other wise women commented, Tilly will and is adapting and she has you to give her lots of love. A ball with bells is a top idea! x

  10. I think animals, like small children, live in the present, and seem to accept whatever is happening to them at any given time (provided they aren't in pain). Tilly is loved and cared for, and the ball with bells is a wonderful idea. Good luck wiht it!

  11. Yes, a dilemma, Joanne. I would be worried about Tilly having an op because she gets so distressed if I have to leave her. I suppose it depends on the age of the dog and so on. You're right, they don't dwell on things do they.

    Thank you Diane x

    Yes they live in the here and now don't they, Frances. What a lovely way to be.

  12. Oh, poor sausage. But it sounds as if she's coping well. She has a good mom!

    Julie xx

  13. Poor Tilly. It must help her to know she's living in such a loving home though.

  14. Oh bless her. But she is very lucky to have you to care for her.


  15. Thank you Helen xx

    And thank you, Suz xx

  16. Teresa, this made me cry - how hard for you to watch. But we had a dog who went blind and deaf but still managed really well around the house. He wouldn't take the stari anymore but was otherwise completely content. He used to sit in his favourite spot in the garden which he was always still able to find; I remember watchng him hold his head up to enjoy the wind on his face and rolling on his back in that universal happy dog gesture we all know so well. He enjoyed several years of happy old age in this state amidst the people and places he had always loved - and so will Tilly. x

  17. (This is me, not anonymous - Blogger won't let me comment on my own blog)

    Thank you for your words of reassurance Lydia - and now you've made me cry at the thought of your dog holding his head up to enjoy the wind. That's such a lovely image and so wonderful that he enjoyed a happy old age.

    Tilly is definitely enjoying life - racing round the fields hidden in the long grass while I watch with my heart in my mouth in case she gets lost!!
    Teresa xx

  18. Blogger is being stupid and won't let me sign in so you might not see this. Just wanted to say, glad Tilly is adapting. We often forget that dogs actually "see" the world through their sense of smell. I saw a TV doc about it once - fascinating! Lydia x

  19. I went to have a look for a website a friend of mine goes on, as her staffy puppy was born blind very sadly. She says she has bought scented balls ( no rude jokes pls) for her pup and he loves them!
    I also thought i'd put this poem on here because I thought it was lovely. The link to the website she uses is after the poem.

    I cannot see you Mummy, when you cuddle me so near.
    And yet I know you love me, it's in the words I hear.
    I cannot see you Daddy, when you hold me by your side
    But still I know you love me when you tell me so with pride.
    I cannot see to run and play out in the sun so bright
    For here inside my tiny head it's always dark as night.
    I cannot see the treats you give when I am extra good
    But I can wag my tail in Thanks just like a good dog should.
    "She cannot see. The dogs no good" is what some folks might say
    "She can't be trained, she'll never learn She must be put away."
    But not you, Mum and Daddy You know that it's alright
    Because I love you just as much as any dog with sight.
    You took me in, you gave me love and we will never part
    Because I'm blind with just my eyes, I see you in my heart. there are loads of ideas and posts from people with blind dogs and some are very insprirational.
    Loads of love Teresa, being with you and Steve she's with the best people she can be with. :-)

  20. I think I saw that too Lydia (by the way this is me again - Blogger still won't let me comment - how rude!)their noses are amazing!

    That's a lovely poem Carrie - I specially love the last line and thank you for your kind words.
    Thanks for the link - I tried out a jingly ball on a rope today and not only did Tilly refuse to have anything to do with it, Indy looked at it with disgust and demanded his tennis ball :-)