Last week I took my one and a half year old pup, Quint, to the Animal Eye Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, for an official vision assessment. Not surprisingly, the specialist confirmed that Quint’s vision was severely impaired due to detached retinas in both eyes and a tear in one. He also confirmed that his condition was congenital which was supported by the revelation that one of Quint’s littermates is almost totally blind.
As many know, I flew out to San Diego, CA, in early December of last year, just six weeks after the passing of my husband, Rich. Numb from Rich’s sudden passing, I’d felt a need to take a solo flight to a city I’d never been to so I could claim that pup I’d fallen in love with on-line.
There was something significant about this little guy who’d come in to the world just as Rich was weeks away from leaving it, although we didn’t know it at that time. Quint, a Maltese mix, was one of a litter of five that had been born to a street stray who’d been pulled from an animal shelter just days before giving birth in a foster home. That very same day, Rich had been admitted to the ICU in our local hospital. I recall watching the litter as they progressed each day. I’d imagine that one of those pups would be mine; something that helped me get through some dark hours.
But “doggy drama” would ensue. When that first foster home did not provide the proper care for the struggling pups, I was relieved to learn that the mother and her babies had been transported to a new foster home where they all thrived. All pups were placed and mamma Destiny, now renamed Shasta, found her forever family in her loving foster home. Hats off to Joy Manley of R &R Sanctuary and Ola and Roberta for their outstanding nurturing.
I had my eye on a little cream-colored boy pup with an apricot tinge infused around his ears and back. I began to refer him as “Toasty” as he was a little darker than his littermates. However, even before Rich had passed, I’d already named that pup Quint in honor of Rich’s favorite movie and actor, Robert Shaw, who starred as the colorful character Quint in JAWS. We’d already had a Portuguese water dog named Hooper, who’d driven the boat and our lives when we lived at the Jersey Shore.
Even before I’d met Quint I could tell by looking at photos that one of his eyes seemed different. I’d learn that he’d been born with nystagmus, which is defined as, “a condition where the eyes move rapidly and uncontrollably. The eyes may shake more when looking in certain directions.”
But that didn’t matter to me. It just made me want him more. Sometimes nystagmus can correct on its own, but congenital types often do not. Early on, I noticed he didn’t seem to be able to see his toys or treats on the ground, even if they were right there in front of him. He also wouldn’t jump off the the sofa or my bed because he lacked depth perception. He also wandered and fell in to a friend’s pool because he couldn’t tell where the concrete ended and the water began.
The eye doctor explained that there was not much to be done to correct this in-born condition, however, as glaucoma may develop, every six months he will be screened and if glaucoma presents, that will be controlled with medication. Our goal is to preserve the eyes and keep Quint in good health.
He’s become a great sniffer, and his hearing is acute bolstered by his adorable pronounced head tilt, and as he still does have limited vision, very few people realize that he is nearly totally blind. He moves about freely, occasionally running into a wall or two.
Quint is a happy boy. Like my late dog, Teddy who became totally deaf and then lost a leg to a Mast Cell Tumor, dogs seem to be able to live for the day and find enjoyment in just being in the moment. The other day, I read through a long thread on a Widowed Grief Support Facebook page where members posted photos of their pets, mostly dogs, and discussed how these companions helped them through some dark times.
I always tell people that when the time is right, so is the dog. By that I mean that we seem to be sent the very dog we need at a particular time in our lives. Why is it that there are millions of dogs in the world at any given moment, and that one is assigned to you? How is it that my future dog was born in such a dramatic fashion across the nation and managed to make himself known to me through a foster group located in the mid-west? Little “Q” as he’s called is outgoing and cheerful, the kind of dog I need in my life now. He pulls me out of my down times and despite his limited vision, heads us both down better paths.
These are among the many things on which I ponder before falling asleep each night, with Quint soundly asleep in his favorite spot just underneath my bed as we dream about the promise of better days ahead.