If you’ve been coming here for any length of time, you’ll know about Indy being diagnosed as a puppy with EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) and how we came so close to losing him. I wrote an article about it which appeared in Dog’s Monthly in November last year (“Wasting Away - Focus on EPI, a digestive disease.”)
This is him with Oakley, (who is a week older than him) when they were very small. Oakley used to look after him when he was ill, snuggling up to keep him warm. Much prettier than the flowers that used to grow in that tub! Oakley is deaf now, but he still has that lovely way of looking at you.
Indy was a funny little pup. Stairs scared him. He could go up easily enough, but coming down was another matter. He was nine months old before he took that first tentative step down the stairs. Once he realised he could do it, he was fine.
I’ve always said that he’s a bit of a wimp. But the thing is he isn’t a wimp. He’s very brave. Everything he’s ever been afraid of in his life, he’s overcome it.
Being scared of things doesn’t make you a wimp and it takes a lot of courage to face your fears head on.
It’s a year since he was diagnosed with diabetes (which is a complication of the EPI so we always knew it could happen) and he’s put up with twice daily injections, blood tests etc with no fuss at all.
When he lost his sight earlier this year, watching him negotiate the stairs was terrifying. He’d stand and carefully inch his way to the top then make his slow way down. Sometimes he’d misjudge where he was and end up in a bedroom.
Occasionally he’d go to walk in a bedroom and end up on the stairs! I put a baby gate across the top so I’d have time to get there and go down with him. He slipped a few times. Now and then he’d misjudge where he was and turn before the stairs did, banging his head on the post.
Now I watch him go down the stairs and he does it slowly and carefully, but sure-footedly (still have my heart in my mouth though). A textured doormat at the turn tells him when he’s reached the point where he has to change direction.
It occurred to me the other day as I watched him coming down (having first negotiated his way past Fizz who was lying on her back at the top waving her paws at him) that it must take a tremendous amount of courage to do it. But he never hesitates.
I’ve tried doing it with my eyes closed and hanging on to the banister which is scary enough, but he has nothing to hang on to - once he's committed that first paw, there's no going back.
I’ve long since taken the baby gate away and he’ll often go downstairs without me even noticing he’s gone. In fact he makes his way round the house and garden with such ease that you wouldn't know he was blind.
In his quiet way he's a brave old thing.
He used to be frightened of children too!