About Me

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Concord, California, United States
I am a sometimes-writer, everyday mama, creative failure and experimental cook. I am interested in living a beautiful life, spending time with my family and making things that I can feel proud of. When I'm by myself I'm usually outside. Don't bother calling because chances are that I didn't bring my cell phone because I couldn't find it. If you see me walking, it's because I lost my keys and if you see me with only one child... I'm probably in big trouble.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Little Blind Dog

I have known that Sidney was going blind for years now.

She was about five years old when she began refusing to go up and down the stairs at night.  Even the smallest landings seemed too much for her.  She would whimper and cry at the bottom of the staircase for either Jay or I to carry her up to bed.  I spoke to her vet about it and he said that she probably fallen a few times and was scared of the stairs, but I could tell that there was more happening and I suspected by the unsteady, uncertain steps that I saw her taking that it was her eyes.

Over the past year I have seen her eyesight progressively deteriorate to a place that is problematic.  Her eyes are not cloudy, but they appear glow with unnatural iridescence.  She bumps into walls and trips over toys left on the floor.  She will run into the screen door or get poked with the dishwasher if it's open.  At night, when our lights are dim or she has to go outside, I noticed that she walks with her nose on the ground, feeling her way around.  It's clear to me that she isn't able to see anything in times of reduced light.  She walks like a drunken dog, swaying back and forth on the walkway between the dirt and the pebbles.

I asked her Philly vet about blindness but he told that me she was fine.

I knew he was just rushed and overworked and didn't have time for my little Italian Greyhound.

So, I was not surprised in March when our new California vet told me that Sidney has progressive retinal atrophy and is mostly blind now but will be completely blind within the year. There is nothing that we can do, it's just the way she is wired.   During that particular vet visit Sidney had a seizure on the table and was being treated for a pinched nerve that was causing her terrible pain.  I was more concerned about Sidney's pain level than I was about failing eye sight.  The vet expressed that she'll be okay.  She won't experience pain from her eye loss and will get along just fine as a blind dog.  Her quality of life won't suffer at all.

In the past couple of months, maybe because I have a more watchful eye, I've seen Sidney's sight capacity rapidly decreasing.  She has always slept in bed with us, but being in bed seems to make her feel very insecure.  If anyone moves or a cat walks by (which happens about 50 times a night) Sidney growls ferociously to warn us that she's there and she's scared.  I had to eventually move her bed next to our bed and she sleeps there, with my arm dangling down on her now.

I can see that she is struggling to see in the daytime too now.  I think that she still sees shapes, but I don't think she is able to make out much more than that.  She's become very clumsy and sudden movement seems to scare her.  She even seems disoriented frequently.

I want to teach her commands, like "step up" and "step down" and "turn right" and "turn left" but I'm just not sure how to do this.  She's a really smart dog and I know that she could pick up on the information, but I am barely capable of teaching a dog not to pee on my laundry room floor, never mind teaching one how to be self-sufficiently blind.

One thing that Sidney has always loved to do is to fetch.  And though she still plays through sound and smell, she is rarely never able to get to the ball before Groovy-James and will sort of pitifully continue to search for it long after he's retrieved and hid it (Groovy-James only retrieves.  He does not have any interest in giving the ball back to me to throw again).

Anyway...  my point is that I love little Sidney Holler so much and I can't believe that I am seeing these signs of age in her.  I can't bare the thought of Sidney ever dying, so every ailment feels like it is one step closer to losing someone who I love so much.  And Sidney's blindness doesn't feel painless to me.  She seems scared to death.

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