Monday, I shared Gayle’s list of tips 1 through 5 about living with a blind dog; below are tips 6 through 10.
6. Consider using a flowing fountain for your dog’s water bowl. The sound of running water will help your blind dog find its drinking dish, and the sound can be appealing to both people and pets in the house. Circulating water maintains its freshness longer as well, offering greater appeal than a stagnant pool.
7. Various toys that stimulate your blind dog’s other, more acute, senses engage it in play. Squeaky toys or products that you can put treats inside positively impact playtime. KONG© makes a variety of toys into which biscuits and other treats can be placed; these offer aromas that a blind dog can “seek and find” and be rewarded.
Some blind dogs may react negatively to squeaky toys because their sense of hearing becomes much more acute when blindness sets in; that was the case with Sage, so we substituted toys with fragrance for toys that squeak. She also enjoyed tug-of-war, and that engaged us, as Sage’s owners, in her playtime.
8. Stay connected with your blind dog through voice and touch. Dogs enjoy gentle strokes and pats on the head; many dogs also respond positively to belly rubs and massage. Dogs also love to hear their human’s voice. All this is especially true for blind dogs. Affectionate voice and tender touch are calming and provide the sense of security your blind pet needs. Sage was a very tactile dog – she enjoyed gentle, massaging touch, and she often curled near my feet, reassured of where she was … near me.
9. Sense of security is important, and having a quiet place at which your blind dog can spend time is also beneficial. A peaceful room, such as a corner of your bedroom or home office, can serve as that special place. An indoor dog kennel, with the door opened so that your blind dog can come and go as it pleases, can also serve as the “safe spot”. If your household is busy with children, parties, and/or other dogs, your blind dog will need that safe, quiet place to which it can retreat.
When Sage first became blind, she used a large crate that we purchased and set up in the spare bedroom. As she adjusted to her blindness, she simply retreated to the room and either lay on the floor or in the crate. As time passed, she stopped using the crate but still occasionally retreated to the bedroom
10. Consider a second dog if you don’t already have one. Some blind dogs do well with others of their kind, and some sighted canines actually become “seeing eye dogs” for blind ones (don’t expect your sighted dog to be your blind dog’s guide, but don’t be surprised if that takes place). Dogs are social creatures, and a another dog can be a very good companion for a blind one, especially in a household in which both adults are absent for many hours.
Putting these ideas into practice and continuing to encourage, train and spend time with your blind dog will help both of you live more effectively with the disability of blindness. Remember that blindness is not fatal; this fact will help you cope better with the news and therefore, assist you in helping your beloved dog. Although Sage and I did not expect the journey of blindness, we accepted and faced the challenges. We enjoyed 11 years of blessed companionship, including traveling, and exploring. You and your blind dog can also create and share a rewarding life together – using the tips provided above, I believe you will!
Gayle M. Irwin is a Wyoming author, writer and speaker. She has published three children’s books and an adult nonfiction with her dogs as main characters. Her latest work, Walking In Trust : Lessons Learned with my Blind Dog, is a devotional-style book that that parallels lessons learned from her blind dog Sage with her faith walk with God. Mrs. Irwin is also a contributing writer to four Chicken Soup for the Soul compilations and has produced an ebook for blind dog owners. A former conservation and humane educator, she volunteers for various animal welfare
organizations. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That!: 101 Stories about the Crazy Antics of Our Canine Companions
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog: 101 Stories about Life, Love, and Lessons
If you’re living with a blind dog or a deaf dog, I’d love to learn more about what tips you have for me!