How To Navigate While Blind
Cloe has been blind now for almost four years. She lost her eyes to glaucoma. (Jack Russell Terriers are prone to that.) When we moved to this house, she had been totally without sight for six months, so she has never seen what it looks like.
They say that sight takes up a major part of the brain’s functions. When you lose your sight, the other senses kick in to compensate for the lack of vision. I believe this to be true for Cloe.
Sense of Smell
Dogs have terrific olfactory abilities. How else can they track down their ‘prey’ when on the hunt? And the checking of Dogbook (Facebook for dogs) posts would be useless without it.
I’ve had a lot of hours watching Cloe. When she approaches a set of stairs, she seems to smell where the step ends, then she steps down confidently. She doesn’t need a white cane. Her nose is her guide.
Sense of Sound
Echo location doesn’t just belong to bats seeking insects at night. But as Cloe ages (she’s 13 years old now), her hearing isn’t as acute as it once was. Still, if there’s thunder in the air, she attempts to scare it away, at full volume.
I have often seen her walk into a room and peer about as if listening for clues to ‘see’ where everyone else is. And if you speak to her, she will ‘look’ at you as if she has eyes.
Extra Sensory Perception
Do dogs have ESP? All things considered, when their senses are engaged, I believe they can ‘sense’ the unseen, unknown easily. Cats also have this ability. Ghosts are visible to them, which is why we sometimes see our pets look off into a corner of the room, even though no one is physically there.
As I suggested in my previous post, dogs are psychic. Cloe in particular, either by picking up on unconscious verbal clues on our part, or by ‘seeing’ an image from one of our minds, is always ready for an adventure. She loves to travel, but she is impatient to arrive at our destination, whimper whining her version of “Are we there yet?”
Because Cloe was sighted for more than nine years of her life, it does not surprise me that she can see when she’s asleep. The clues are her scrambling legs and muffled barks when she’s dreaming. This may also account for why she sleeps so much, during the day.
I can only imagine how disappointing it is for her to wake up to darkness every time.
We wondered if we were doing the right thing not ‘putting her down’ when she lost her eyesight. We hoped that she would still have a good life, in spite of her loss. Since I walk her twice a day on a leash, I know that, aside from a few missteps along the route, she is quite self-assured and seems to still love the journey. God bless her.