Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Dog's Guide

I like to call him our first-born.

After all, he was born in 1998, a whole 5 years before either of our daughters, neither of whom know life without him in it.

I wrote a while ago about how he has an eye problem which requires an expensive surgery, one we have opted not to do. His quality of life is impacted, but as long as his eye condition is controlled with medication and drops, the condition is not painful nor life-threatening. This is what we've chosen to do, for as long as we can.

One day this past week Dax awoke early and wanted to start his day. I could hear him snorting and sniffing for attention from his sleeping companion, my daughter. Before he could wake her I got up and carried him to the top of the stairs, then set him on the floor to walk down the stairs, like he usually does. I started down the stairs but he didn't follow me. I looked back to find him sniffing and searching for the top step, reaching a paw uncertainly in front of him to try to feel his way.

I carried him all the way down the stairs and to the side door. I set him on the floor again and opened the door, only to have him not find his way out the door. On and on this went until eventually I had to carry him out to the back patio for him to relieve himself, then carried him back in. He found his breakfast by smell, and then found his way to the rug for his treat by routine alone.

It was pitiful. And thankfully it was temporary.

Once the day got started and more lights were turned on, his vision seemed to return and he was able to move around again with confidence. I can only guess that his limited vision is impacted by low light levels, and returns once there is more light.

He has always been a companion dog, preferring his humans to being alone, but he is more so now. He follows me around constantly, mirroring my every move as I go up stairs and down, cooking or doing laundry, or putting the kids to bed. If I am sitting in a chair he can access he will jump up and make himself comfortable right next to me. If he can't sit next to me, he will stand or sit near my feet.

I have come to realize that I am my dog's guide. I hope I am a good guide in the autumn of his years.

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