My oldest dog, Twinkle, is in her twilight years without a doubt. She will be fourteen years old in the spring. She, like all my Labradors, has been a good dog. She was a great show dog, earning her championship at a young age. Seriously, she was one of those dogs that stood up and asked the judge, no, told the judge, she was the winner. She was queen of the ring. Tail wagging, loads of confidence, just never stopped sparkling.
She was also an excellent field dog, earning her Junior Hunter title with no problem. She loved the field work; it came naturally to her. It was a joy to watch her work. She also titled in the obedience ring, but it was her least favorite venue of competition.
Her career came to a screeching halt when her vision started to decline at the age of four. I was expecting that to happen. Earlier, I had had genetic testing done and found out she was affected by Progressive Retinal Atrophy. I knew she would go blind, but I just didn’t know when. I was hoping that she would be one of the lucky affected dogs that would not lose their vision until late in life. As it turned out, she was completely blind by around six years of age. Honestly, I think it bothered me more than it bothered her. After all, she was not aware that all dogs do not go blind. At this point, she has been blind for more than half her life.
In the last year or so, she has also lost much, if not all, of her hearing. So, she is fairly restricted. She goes out in the fenced in yard and wanders around. She can wander around my garden with me supervising. She can certainly find her spot on the couch. She can hunt down any stray morsel of food with her excellent sense of smell. A game she likes is when I spread little pieces of food around on the den floor so she can sniff them out.
She doesn’t get to be around people like she used to, so she loves to meet people when they come to my house. I make sure everybody that comes gets a chance to pet her. I am concerned I don’t spend enough quality time with her. She deserves more one on one attention. Perhaps that should be a New Year’s Resolution for me. While she appears to be doing well, in her age bracket, who knows what tomorrow will bring for Champion Willcare’s Shooting Star JH CD.
photo at top by RoxAnne Franklin