Shadow Sees Shadows – Diva’s Domain
Shadow wandered up as a puppy a few years ago. He had mange, as did his brother Spot, and we cleaned them up intending to find them homes. No one wants black probably part pitbull young dogs. They weren’t exactly cute. Still aren’t. They’re the “well beauty is only skin deep” kind of dog. The looks aren’t everything kind of dog.
Both settled in and grew up and have had some challenges along the way. Occasional little squabbles happened, usually between them or with Scotty. The girls bully them badly.
But just good dogs are sometimes alright too so they’ve been fed, housed, cared for all this time. They’re not exactly guard dogs but watch dogs suit well.
Until recently when we noticed a swelling on Shadow, left side. I figured he and Spot had another little squabble and didn’t think too much of it – the next day it was down and at the time I was major focused on Bess in her last days.
Less than a week after Bess was buried, it was clear something wasn’t right with Shadow. He was bumping into things and not his normal self. Closer examination revealed he couldn’t see. Sudden movement near his face didn’t even get a blink.
I’m not one to rush to the vet at every sniffle, but there are certain things that warrant veterinary care – colic in horses. Vision issues in anything. The swollen lymph nodes signified infection or something more sinister. The vet noticed what seems a fatty deposit in the eye, but couldn’t tell anything for sure causing the vision issues. The lymph nodes are troubling – it could be anything from overload of fleas to cancer. Clearly the vet, who put Bess down, did not want to tell me bad news about another dog.
So rather than overwhelm at what we couldn’t do anything about let’s look at what we can DO, try it and hope for the best. He got a shot of dexamethasone, and is on prednisone for a while. Both to address the swollen lymph nodes, which if due to infection were working as they should. Flea treatment, and he got another dose of de-wormer when we got home.
It’s no miracle, but he’s comfortable as can be. He can see light/dark, we think, but limited. That makes Shadow’s life a challenge, but he’s adapted very well. He lays near my chair much of the time, taking comfort in the known. A couple of the biggest challenges – navigation, which helps in familiar but he MUST be on leash when outside or on the step chain if unsupervised. If he were to get out in the road, he can’t see traffic and traffic would run him over. So he needs trained to adapt, from “step” at a change in elevation to constantly talking when calling him so he can hear and find his way to us.
A more stressful issue in a multiple dog home is not being able to see warnings. If you watch dogs interact there’s body language interaction – a lip twitch or lowered head or raised tail. If ignored it can meet with a growl or attack. He can’t see that body language and, of course, they don’t understand he’s blind. So if he gets in Diva’s space and she growls, he freezes, clearly afraid of what’s coming as he can’t SEE her to know what he missed.
Still, he’s adapting the best he can, and I’m amazed to watch him get near the steps and start reaching/feeling for them. He does what he can and doesn’t dwell on what he can’t. We all can take a lesson from a little black dog with vision issues there.
I don’t know what the future holds for Shadow. The lymph nodes seem reduced in size, which is good. But it could be months, or less, if it goes badly. It’s a constant issue of monitoring him any time he’s outside, or even inside. Changes in location will be harder on him than those that can see. He needs to gain a little weight – he’s 22.5 pounds and I think 30 is better for him, without being too heavy.
From a farm standpoint the dogs aren’t income producing. His care won’t have a financial return, other than it’s included in bills that sales pay for. It’s the hidden things that most don’t see. Some exciting things are in the near future, but behind the scenes is a little black dog that can’t see who depends on that income too! He’s not as personable as Diva or Missy, but somehow I think there’s lessons he’ll teach that others won’t.
Shadow sees the shadows, and much of life is dealing with shadows.