Dogs are loyal, protective and great companions. They have proved heroic in service to our armed forces, law enforcement, first responders and, of course, billions of families. They also work effectively and happily as therapy dogs at hospitals and seniors homes.
Everyone who has been a dog owner can sentimentally recall many great anecdotes and stories of how their pets added to their personal happiness. I recall growing up with my Springer Spaniel named Tiger. He will always be with me, he followed me to and from school, played with us in sports in the neighborhood (he was quite an athlete), and his free spirit and antics became known to everyone in the region of the Chicago suburbs where we lived. Later, we brought on two other dogs, Clementine, and Coconuts who were Poodles and smart as whips. They were really more attached to my parents as I was busy in high school and then college, but they were loving companions.
This brings me to the topic of my blog, our current dog Spoodles. Spoodles is a Pug and was named after a restaurant in Disney World. He is also affectionately called Spoo, Doctor, Little Guy, and Bear by the family. He exemplifies the Pug Breed, intensely loyal, true companions, protective (a Pug saved William of Orange from an attack by alerting him), and often whimsical. Just by their appearance Pugs make a statement. They are built like a keg with peg legs and a smooshed face. They also make gacking sounds and snore quite loudly. They are famous for the Pug head Tilt when you sometimes communicate with them or ask them a question. I often tell my wife and daughters that Spoodles tilts his head when he is contemplating the great philosophical and scientific questions of our time. I am also reminded to his distant linkage to wolves as he amazingly howls when police or fire sirens go by our house.
For the past eight years, Spoodles has made our lives delightful. He loved to welcome us home from work and school, he loved to play chase the ball and tug and had the endless supply of unconditional love for us that dogs are known to have an infinite supply of in their hearts. He traveled wide and far with us too.
A few months back something unexpected and life changing happened to Spoodles. I was playing fetch with him and I noticed he couldn’t locate the ball. I took him to Vet specialists and they diagnosed him with an auto-immune condition called SARDS that took away his sight in both eyes. SARDS stands for Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome. Any breed is susceptible, but Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Pugs, Brittany Spaniels, Malteses, Bichon Frises, and mixed-breed dogs are particularly predisposed.
The loss of Spoodles vision changed our lives too. We padded the corners and furniture in our house and had to teach him commands to know where objects are and to be able to walk steps. He is on a wide variety of specialized medications and supplements designed to help his immune system and cognitive abilities. He is now more susceptible to infections and we even take him for cold laser fusion to help him have stronger resistance.
We also recognized that the Man’s best friend relationship is also a Dog’s best friend one too. We appreciate everything he has done and still does for us. We are loyal to him we get special gratification at seeing him happy. Every time he prances with excitement (a Pug thing) it brings real joy to our family. We know he loves food (another Pug trait) so we keep engaged via treats with laying with high fives and various fun commands for him. We make his meals special and his night time ritual of sleeping on the bed an enjoyable one. Our youngest daughter watches the TV and Netflix (most recently the Gilmore Girls series) with Spoodles at her side. Our older daughter away at college at Bucknell insists on messaged videos daily of the Pug. And my wife goes out the way to see that his health condition is closely watched and that he is entertained and comfortable at all times.
And despite his loss of sight affliction, Spoodles is still Spoodles, he is still loyal, protective, entertaining, and a great companion. The situation made us more cognizant of perspectives of our dog and how meaningful relationships can be with dogs (and people and other pets) despite health issues. Our special canine relationship with Spoodles has taught us lessons of life.