It's been awhile since I updated you guys on my life. There is good reason.
For the past week my nights & my days have been consumed with caring for my dog Dearly. Last Sunday I woke up baffled to find that she had gone completely blind overnight.
Yes, blind. Overnight.
Dearly performs an operatic aria cause that's how she rolls
Dearly is a rescue dog. I was photographing a remote desert cemetery one day about 3 years ago, and I found her there. In many of the older cemeteries around here, the graves have been surrounded by 'fences' of chain link (like this) It was on top of a grave, inside one of these 'fences', that I found the most pathetic, starved little creature- and the gate was purposely secured from the outside with a piece of wire. Pissed me off enormously that someone would do something like that to an animal! She had been trapped inside for many days without any food or water and she was near death. She was starved, dehydrated, she had mange, half of her fur was missing, and she had so many cuts and wounds they were uncountable. She had been trying to dig or squeeze her way out under the chain link, and she had dozens of cuts and scrapes to her head & face as a result. She was in extremely bad shape.
This is how she looked after a week of careful care, you can imagine what she looked like when I originally found her:
I brought her home and named her Dearly (as in Dearly D. Parted, in ode to where she was discovered) and with a lot of love and hard work, I nursed her back to health. I wasn't planning to keep her- I thought maybe I'd foster her til she recovered, then adopt her out- but none of the no-kill shelters would take her because she was a 'wild' stray, and I didn't have the heart to send her to the pound (and probable death) after she'd come through so much. So, I kept her.
And this is how Dearly looks today:
Dearly likes hanging around with the newest addition to our fuzzy family, little Mia.
Dearly has always been very timid, and fearful of her own shadow, despite much coaxing from me. But when Mia came to join us at the beginning of this year, Dearly made friends with her and opened up in a whole new way- letting go of her timidity and suddenly tearing through the house, tumbling & playing with Mia without fear. It's like Mia brought out the puppy in her again. It's been wonderful to watch.
Then, disaster strikes- Dearly wakes up last Sunday with absolutely no sight. I first noticed that she seemed disoriented, and when I called to her, she tried to come to me but walked right into the bed. I could tell right away that she couldn't see anything. The more I checked her out the more obvious it was that she was blind.
We got her to the vet and they ran every test they could on her, thinking that they'd find some brain tumor, or neurological issue, or something dreadful like that. Instead, they found absolutely nothing, no reason whatsoever for the instant blindness. However, they did supposedly find that she had a low red blood cell count, and told us that they think she has something called aplastic anemia, a blood disease which is terminal.
Devastating news, especially considering that I just lost my kittycat Nico so recently.
The bizarre thing is that the anemia seems to have nothing to do with the blindness- they said they have no conclusive idea as to why she has gone blind. There is something called SARDs that can cause overnight blindness in dogs, but they didn't know whether or not that had anything to do with it. They sent her home with antibiotics on the off chance that she had a low-grade infection that they couldn't detect, and told us to bring her back in a week to check the progress. There's nothing they can do about her blindness, and there's nothing they can do about the anemia if she does indeed have it. Right now I am in wait-and-see mode, and suddenly have a blind dog to look after. It's been heartbreaking to watch her fear and confusion and to not be able to do a thing about it.
I'm trying to do all I can to take care of her the best I can. I sprayed perfume on all the corners, doorways, and furniture so she would have scent points to guide her (watching her blindly bump into things was so awful, I had to try something) And I've been talking to her a lot, guiding her around by having her follow my voice (and sometimes with a milkbone in my pocket for extra incentive)... and by using her nose & her ears she has been learning how to find her way. I've also been singing to her a lot too, for some reason she seems to really like that. And strangely, she's become a bit braver through all of this, using a confidence that I'd never seen in her before. She is adjusting, as dogs do.
I don't know what is going to happen. My mind has not had a break from worry as far as my pets go... two months ago all of our cats came down with a virulent respiratory infection that could have killed them, and let me tell you something, you think giving a cat medicine sucks, you should try it with several cats, several times a day! My arms looked like cat-scratch road maps for a few weeks. Then, last month my other dog, Courtney, woke up sick as Hell one morning and ended up in surgery a few hours later having an emergency hysterectomy. She very nearly lost her life that day and required some constant nursing on my part for a few weeks (she got her stitches out last week and has recovered nicely) Then while that was happening, Nico got sick and had to be put to sleep. And now this with Dearly. Oi.
Whatever happens, I will take care of her the best I can. I had a one-eyed blind dog once before (though much different, because she went blind gradually over a long period) so I do know what to expect in some senses. And I'll give her heaps of love no matter what happens. As for the future, we'll just have to meet it when we come to it. We'll see.