Ben – Living With A Blind Dog

Tomorrow would have been our appointment at the vet’s clinik for Ben’s eye extraction. We had to cancel, as I have wormed all three dogs yesterday and poor Ben was throwing up all over the kitchen floor during the night, not feeling well at all. Besides that, I had a bad flu over the last 2 weeks and really didn’t feel fit and up to the task of comforting and caring for my dog after such a major operation.

Ben is doing well, so far. Outside in the fields, he seems to manage his blindness better than inside of the house, which puzzles me. I would have thought, the other way around.  We had two incidents so far, where I had to tell other dog owners to please take control over their very bouncy, barking dogs, running in circles around Ben which resulted in our Molly being overprotective and trying to frantically bark the other dog away.  Chaos, mayhem. But, fortunately, the dog owners reacted very sensible and understanding and at the end a heartfelt hug for me and a hug for Ben and mouthy Molly settled the pandemonium.

Ben has always been an extremely obedient, following kind of dog. One call, and he is on track and finds the direction to follow me. I have the feeling that at the moment his ears are working much better than his nose. Cocker Spaniels are well known for their sniffing and tracking and Ben, of course, still is following those instincts. As a result, he sometimes gets too far away from me and stops, looking panicked. As soon as I call out his name and speak to him, he follows my voice.

In the house, I have noticed a slight change in the behaviour of my other two dogs. When I open the door to let them into the garden, the other two dogs, Molly and Dina, are pushing him out of the way, jumping over him to get out because he now is so much slower than they are. Today, when giving them treats, Molly snatched Ben’s treat away before he could get to it. Dina even tried to growl him away from his food bowl and I interfered. This is quite irritating because I know, there are different rules in the dog-world from ours. Still, it pains me to see how my once so proud Ben is being pushed out of the way and has to struggle to be respected.  Has the pack order changed with Ben’s blindness? Do I have to, as the pack leader, fight for his position and welfare? Or do I have to, according to the laws of nature, let them sort it out?  I’m not quite sure yet.

So far, I have to speak more to Ben to give him security so that he can follow and orientate himself.

He always is wagging his tail, Blinddog his old self most of the times, joyful, affectionate and gentle. I have heard that some dogs become aggressive out of fear for not seeing; I would like to do my best to avoid that.

My day-to-day life has changed much since Ben fell blind. I always have to have an eye on him, talk to him, touch him more than before. I have to help him in and out of the car, onto the chair, up the stairs and down (he is 22 kg :). I have to watch other dogs in the field as he is not able to read their body language and might react to his disadvantage. My social life has changed, because I don’t want to leave him alone at home any more. I have to reassure him, support him, help him.  Ben has been my companion, my comrade, for 9 years, day in, day out. He was fun and joy and comfort. I don’t feel him a burden now, I rather think, Ben shows me another side of life. All too often, we humans tend to use animals for our own purposes. Especially dogs. There is much more to the relationship between humans and animals; I am finding that out right now. We all are living in one world; kindness and devotion, love, has to work both ways. 








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