When my dog Shon began going blind, emotionally, it hit us like a ton of bricks. This dog was so spirited and family dedicated and such a very happy guy. How would blindness change him? How would we ever learn how to be parents to a pet with disabilities. We were fearful that we could not provide a wholesome and fulfilling life for this precious guy.
I remember sitting in the car and crying after we left the Ophthalmologists office. I looked over to the passenger seat where Shon loved to ride. His front paws already stood on the passenger arm rest and he took on his “riding” pose to look out the window and see the world go by!
“What on earth are you looking at?” I whispered with a saddened heart. He turned towards me looked me straight in the eyes and his little nubby tail took off wagging so fast! He wanted to RIDE!
My tears turned to a hearty laugh. I suddenly knew how we would learn to be great special needs pet parents. We would learn it all from Shon! I started the car and we both happily began our journey.
And that was exactly what we did. … Learn from Shon.
And he learned some new things from us, too!
We taught Shon the “STOP!” command when there was danger. “upup” when there was a curb or a step up. “downdown” when he needed to get down from a step or curb. His favorite was “lead the way”. That command meant that he would walk in front of us with a full heart of trust. No obstacles. It was safe. He walked so secure and proud. No one knew that Shon was blind until we mentioned it.
Over time, we learned what situations Shon was insecure with and which ones he just LOVED! Like going to the beach. The waves would lick around his feet and he would happily jump and run.
Shon also loved to attend events where there were lots of dogs and people. All the smells were just heaven for him. That is when I learned how to mark him so that others could see that he was disabled. People stopped walking into him. At the beach, if he ran out of reach, others kept a watchful eye with their own dogs to make way for Shon.
All I had to do is listen to his cues and act accordingly, assuring his safety.
Over the years, his life was full and his well-being was maintained.
And that was all that mattered.
Next week we will blog about making the house a calm and secure place for a blind dog. In the meantime, please look at our website, where we sell the vests that we designed to mark Shon and other disabled dogs. Our brand is named after Shon and his safety gear. www.SHONGear.com