Sunday, April 3, 2011

The four cardinal rules.

You'd think that a dog would be at his most confused in the first weeks of blindness. It doesn't seem to work like that. Here we are in week three and only now is his total dependence on us becoming clear. It's as if he's forgetting his visual map of the house and garden without having put in place a new map based on scent and feel.

Both Wilf and his family are learning new ground rules. So far the four cardinal rules seem to be :

Chatter away all the time. The sound of familiar voices seems to relax him. Maybe its because our voices let him know where we are or maybe they simply provide comfort that he doesn't have to face the world alone. Who cares if people think we're lunatics as we burble happily away ?

Time spent on commands like ' stop , stay, up, down and go ' make everyones life much easier. Of these 'stop' is the most important. If a blind dog can walk into something he will. If the blind dog happens to be Wilf he'll run into it, repeatedly.

Adventures are vital . Wilf finds it difficult navigating the twenty or so yards across the field down to the stream but when he gets there he loves it. Over the last few weeks we've learnt that depression in dogs does exist . There's nothing like fresh scents and textures to brighten up a dogs day. Where we go, he goes. Thankfully, he loves the back of the old Volkswagen with its familiar smells and textures so having him tag along for adventures is no problem.

Use a short lead and harness for walks. Even if its only across to the fire hydrant or the village green. He feels much more comfortable knowing that there is someone there keeping an eye out for threats and dangers. The second he's let off the lead he freezes.

Wilfs ' there's no failure except in no longer trying ' attitude to life makes this next stage of the journey much easier.


  1. Wilf has the best possible family to go through this journey with him.

  2. To the happy babbling ones - I think you are doing great - keeping your cardinal rules in my diary as my oldie is getting blind too. Love and amdirmation from all of us in Southern Italy Susanne Daisy and Foxiie

  3. Wilf,you will be safe having human eyes looking out for you.
    Our eyes can see how brave you are.
    Enjoy your sense of Smell (Mums culinary delights) Taste (fish pie and coconut ice-cream)
    Touch (tender stroke of Angus hand)
    Enjoy the comforting voice of loved ones.
    ROO xx

  4. Wow, guys sure have a lot to deal with. I admire the love, patience and care you are taking with your beloved companion during these golden days.
    It's an eye-opener to be reminded of the things we usually take for granted.
    Sending lotsaluv and lotsastrength.

  5. Caryl/MaxMom has said it best. I know it is a lot of work to care for your beloved Wilf. And I also know I know that every day you have together is a gift making it all worth it.

  6. When Cisco went blind we had to learn a lot too! One very important thing is don't move stuff - furniture, rakes, anything. You have to make sure to put things exactly back to where they were. After a while the dependence on you will wear off - right now Wilf is building a map in his mind. He will be able to navigate better if new obstacles don't appear in front of him! Good luck!


  7. As long as Wilf has his guides with him, he will be just fine. Bless you both for loving him so greatly. Keep going Wilf....lovely boy!

    With love your snowy (sigh) Canadian pals,
    Dianna along with Tor, Willow and Tucker

  8. MaxMom has said it best. Hugs for Wilf. :)

    Blessings and Love,
    Janelle and Maggie Mae

  9. I have to echo what the other commenters said, and add: Angus, you and 'The Font' are simply wonderful! It is so moving to read of the tender loving care you're lavishing on Wilf. Blessings on your day, and on sweet Wilf!

    With much love from the Purple Magpie, Minka the Cat, and Mitzi the Troublemaker (erm, Dog) in California

  10. I agree with those who tell you what fine dog parents you are. Caring for a geriatric dog is hard at best, but one with health issues is tougher. My dear Scottie Otis, first lost his vision, then his hearing , but thank God his snooter stayed well and healthy until he left us and he sniffed everything frequently and at length.

    Hooray for you Wilf!


  11. Oh, I haven't dropped in in awhile. I am very sorry to learn of Wilf's blindness. Positive thoughts for all of you as you adjust to Wilf's blindness. ~Alasandra

  12. I'm sorry to hear Wilf is feeling a little down.

    On a Greyhound forum I visit, they've been discussing a young dog who suddenly went blind. He was immediately retired from racing at two years old and sent to an adoption kennel. People who have dealt with a variety of different causes of blindness have suggested a few things to help. They use scented oils and place a few at different doorways. There are different scents for different doors. I don't know if that would help Wilf or not, but I suppose it could be worth trying. They say you only need a few drops, and I don't know how often they reapply it, but I'd be happy to ask and find out for you.

  13. The reversal of roles, seeing eye people for a newly blind dog, is teaching us a profound lesson.

    The sound of your voices must be reassuring music to Wilf's ears.

    And we will remember the four cardinal rules for moments in the future, if ever needed.

    xxx Joan

  14. Ah, Angus, who is to say that folks didn't think you daft BEFORE you began burbling happily away?

    On a more serious note, the care you and the Font have shown Wilf is saintly. The Lord is our Shepherd -- but He'll just be fostering Digby and Wilf a while for you.

  15. I love how Wilf communicates his needs to you and 'the font' and you two respond and carry on. It's a perfect circle...

  16. A few days ago, Maxmom in SA suggested making a bed for Wilf from your clothing. That seems like a wonderful idea! You could remove the filler from one of his pillow bed and replace it with clothing that you have worn. That way he could nap blissfully with the scent of his loved ones to comfort him.
    It hurts to think of Wilf depressed. But we know that you and the font will find inovative ways to keep him amused. God bless you both. (And special blessings for our Wilf.)

  17. I don't know why but this post made me so sad. I guess because I see a lot of Wilf in my dad's ancient beagle. She doesn't have a lot of time left either. And I guess just reading this post just made it all that much more real.

  18. We're learning along with you.

    SHE used to teach blind children, and was always amazed at how quickly they responded to 'stop'.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

  19. Wilf... he never ceases to amaze me with his sage wisdom...

    thank Dog for the snooter. hope it keeps brining him happiness.

  20. Mama has mentioned in prior comments her experience with a dog who went suddenly blind. As long as nothing was moved, he adapted quickly - within days. Mama has to wonder if the brain tumors are affecting Wilf's ability to adapt to blindness. Of course, the cause doesn't matter and your solutions seem effective and very kind. Wilf is, as always, doing the very best he can.

    Jed & Abby

  21. Wilf is very lucky to have you. And you, him.

    Much love and many xxx
    Jake and Fergi

  22. Your love and caring for Wilf shines through in this post. Like you, I've always found that my elderly or sick dogs can be cheered by very small things. A small excursion to the stream with your best friend sounds perfect.

  23. We found this rules most helpful indeed when our big black chow chow, Zubin, lost his sight. I had to laugh when I read about Wilf's expert navigations skills kicking in when he smells the aroma of dinnertime. Sweet, gentle days for the boy.

  24. this blog post made us realise how precious wilf's journey is for all of us, thank you!! loves and licks xxxx