Chewy, is a piddling pup, who did nothing but piddle all day when he first arrived at our home. More seriously, he had cataracts. They were not terrible when he came to live with us, but over the past three years, he has steadily moved toward blindness.
He has always been a funny little guy. When the woman brought him to our door, she told me, “He yodels.” Sure, I thought, and my other dog talks like a parrot. As it turned out, he could not stand being alone and the weird I-I-I-I-I that rose and fell when forced to be without a companion for even a moment, stunned me at first.
This oddity lasted only until he accepted that he was home, loved and could count on us being there the next morning when he awakened. He replaced it with a happy bark when any one of us came home. Later, he added a sharp yelp of warning if the doorbell rang or someone knocked.
All through this, a gradual change overcame his ability to walk around the house. When we moved to a new home, he seemed to bump into things. Maybe we did not want to recognize the problem headed our way. Maybe we feared what would happen if he did go blind.
The last year brought the biggest change. For a while, he bounded over the yard if I called. That changed to bounding a few steps before looking around in confusion. Gradually he stopped bounding unless I ran beside him, leading the way. Going out at night upset him since his limited vision did not always reach to the lighted porch. We began making changes to accommodate.
A few people thought putting him down might be more convenient for me. Angrily I ask if it would be more convenient for the little dog that brought us joy, even when he was terrified in a new home. Would it be kinder to toss him out in the street, because, gosh, that would certainly be more convenient for me? NO and a resounding no.
My brother, my daughter and I are in one accord in making his life as happy as possible during this trying time. After all, we found a solution for the urination problem by using bellybands. So, how hard could it be to help him now?
We walk out with him in the unfenced front yard because before we realized how bad his eyes had gotten, he meandered into the woods behind the house. How he rubbed his head against me and yelped with joy to be found! In unfamiliar places, he is always on leash. In the house, I have ceased being a compulsive furniture rearranger because he cannot keep up with the moody move of the week.
At night, he cannot go out without one of us, even in the back yard. So far, he has measured the distance, via going around the coffee table on the porch, checking one side of a chair that is blocked with a huge flowerpot and eventually finding the opening between the chairs before going down the steps.
I added a much-needed railing on the back porch when he almost stepped off it before I caught him at the last moment. At first, the railing puzzled him, but it is now in his equation of finding the steps.
I watch to make certain he takes no misstep going down and to be ready to help him find the porch again. At night, he walks just past the porch, turns left until he finds the fence, turns left until he finds the corner, turns left until he finds the hosepipe which lays between him and the steps. Only when I call, “Chooch, laMooch” does he dare to cross the obstacle and gain purchase on the lower step.
Sometimes his back legs refuse to rise to the occasion. I gather him in my arms and take him to the living room where he snuggles beside me on the sofa.
One place he can find, whether sighted or not, especially when my brother is cooking, is the kitchen. Without a sound, he positions himself directly behind the chef and waits quietly for the gentle words, “GET THIS DOG OUT OF THE KITCHEN!” He realizes at that time perhaps he is in the wrong place. He returns, via his taxi – me, to the sofa to await whatever treat might make its way from the other room. You see, my brother is a big old softie who feels it necessary to apologize to Chewy for getting upset. That usually means a taste or two of the meat meant for our supper in way of begging forgiveness.
During the night, the dogs do a ballet of beds and the clicking of nails across the floor awakens me. Each demands its turn beside me and, alas, there is but one dog bed in that position. One by one, they move from that one to the one behind it to the one on the other side of the bed. Chewy loses the battle most nights. I will get up to find he has run into the desk chair or the trunk at the end of the bed and gotten no further. I lift him and put him in whatever bed is available. This plays out about three times each night. Being popular can be a hard task, but hey, my senior pups are so worth it.
Yes, Chewy is going blind. That’s okay. It does not make him any less a wonderful pet. It does not make his life any less valuable. It simply changes some of the dynamics of our lives. Isn’t change a good thing?