10 April 2012
Ruby, my mischievous middle Basset, is starting to go blind. Her eyes have begun to cloud over and she is now prone to bumping into things a bit more than a fully-sighted, absent-minded Basset would do.
She's ten later this year, quite a good age for her breed (and especially for a female), so it's a bit of news that has to be taken on the chin, really. Bentley is already ten and, despite making some of the grossest lifestyle choices you can possibly imagine, remains in rude health, so evidently he's getting the luck and Ruby isn't.
The thing is, Ruby was the first of the Basset gang that only belonged in this house. Penny, her auntie who is still mourned, was already a cynical and arsey one-year old with one previous (neglectful) owner whose trust had to be earned when she became Basset number one round these parts. Ruby has only ever known this house and this life, as she arrived straight from the kennels as a 16 week old puppy who tripped over her own ears. Therefore, acknowledging the beginning of her decline isn't comfortable but, given she has lived a blameless existence up to now, the inevitability of nature eventually has to catch up.
Her sight is going only slowly, which is something of a blessing, and she's still remarkably good at locating a biscuit on the floor or, as the most boneidle dog in existence, her warm bed of a night (and morning, and afternoon). Of course, there is no way of knowing just how much deterioration has set in - I chuckle at the thought of her doing a traditional eye test ("Doubleyoo, Oh, Oh, Eff") - but she is capable of offering hope. On her walk last night, just as I was concerned she couldn't see the lamp-post two feet ahead of her, she managed to squeak in her charmingly child-friendly way at the presence of a toddler across the road. So she obviously still has some capability of distance, and enough to keep her safe and content.
On the set collective walks in North Yorkshire with the Basset Hound Welfare down the years, a number of aged dogs have taken part with their eyelids sealed up, having long lost their sight, and their attitude is always reassuringly robust and their balance remarkably good. At least I know that Ruby's prospective blindness is an inconvenient disability rather than an illness, and therefore it isn't going to cause her pain, and it isn't going to kill her.