When our vet was looking Ollie over and taking blood samples to try and find out what his mystery malaise was all about, she suggested we test him to see how his eyesight was going. Her preferred method was to place various obstacles between him and his food bowl at feeding time.
He passed this test without tripping over anything but I noticed he was slowing down and sussing out the shoes, boxes and what have you with his nose.
I put his leash on and took him out into the park. Since his odd behaviour started, I noticed he still walked really well on the leash. Extra well. No pulling or zigging or zagging. Staying close to the person walking him.
I took off across the lawn and steered him towards a small branch lying on the grass.
He tripped right over it.
He can’t see.
His eyes are as brown and clear as ever, but something must have gone wrong with the retina. According to Dr Google, he could have an adrenal or hormonal condition or… something. There will be more trips to the vet to make sure he doesn’t have something systemically wrong like that.
It becomes clear now: the slow walking, the caution, pausing for minutes before he jumps off anything, standing as if staring into space. And much happier on the leash, of course.
He’s pretty good on his own turf – he can still clear the couch in two bounds and bustle out and down the deck steps to give some strange dog what for for daring to walk too close to his fence. But when he’s outside, if we’re not careful, he does walk straight into things – Doink.
Ironically, a charity collector for seeing eye puppy trainers rang me the other day. We’ll be Ollie’s seeing eye humans.