JESSIE: Adjustment Period

I’ve been trying to find the right time to update on Jessie’s progress since her sudden blindness. It was hard the first couple of weeks but I think we’re definitely falling into a routine with her now. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know she was blind!

We invested in a safety gate for the stairs, which couldn’t have been recommended enough. It’s now been uninstalled after about a week because Jessie can go up and down the stairs as she pleases. The first time we realised this was one night a couple of weeks back, she opened the (it hadn’t been properly installed yet), went down the stairs, did her business on the sitting room floor and came back upstairs with no one the wiser. Cheeky!

My mother was especially saddened when she thought she could no longer bring Jessie to the park, as it’s recommended to keep them on the same routes. Not one to follow the rules, however, my mother brought her and my other dog Poppy up to the park and allowed Jessie off the lead, while keeping a close eye on her of course. And Jessie loved it! She went around the trees without a bother, perhaps from her memories of going there so many times before.

She still knows when there’s food around. Her appetite is another story, but we associate that with her diabetes, which we’re still trying to manage. She’s not drinking as much water as she used to and she’s pooping indoors less and less, but she eats as if she hasn’t been fed in years! We give her two meals a day with her insulin injections and a snack in between, usually a hard-boiled egg (diabetic recommendation).

Halloween was difficult for her. Never before was she bothered by the bombardment Ireland gets each year with fireworks but this year it seemed to get to her, perhaps because she can’t see and assure herself that they’re not near her. Thank God it’s over!

I will keep you posted on her progress, this was just a quick update. I feel more confident now that she can still have a good quality of life. Even though she can’t see the world, she can still enjoy it.


JESSIE: Plunged into Darkness

“Jessie’s gone blind.”

I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. I wanted to believe my mother was joking but I knew that’s the last thing she would ever joke about. I couldn’t understand it. That morning she was fine, she seemed to know where she was going. Or was she simply following my voice? I wanted it to be untrue, after all, she had only just been diagnosed with diabetes a few months prior, how much more could her little body take? I was quick to learn that it was in fact the diabetes that had caused her blindness. But so suddenly? Surely it’d be gradual. I couldn’t pinpoint a time when I thought she was losing her sight. She could spot a cat to chase a mile away. How could this happen?

You may have already gathered Jessie is my dog. She’s a nine-year-old Jack Russell Cross my family adopted three years ago. We knew nothing of her history, other than that she had been found wandering the streets of Dublin. However, we have gotten glimpses of what she’s experienced through her immediate fear of my brother and her trembling whenever she hears the smoke alarm beep with a low battery. I wanted to tell her she was safe now and that we wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her.

But now this…

My first reaction after processing the news of Jessie’s blindness was to blame myself, just as I had done when she was diagnosed with diabetes. We feed her twice a day and yet she had managed to gain a large amount of weight. I won’t lie or sugar-coat it, we fed her scraps and she always managed to find food when she was out. As soon as her diabetes was discovered, the weight started dropping but her appetite didn’t. She was getting one insulin injection a day but her bladder never came under control. It reached a point where we were putting down puppy pads overnight. My mother wondered if perhaps she needed two injections a day, a horrible thought but a necessary evil.

Yesterday morning, my mother came downstairs to a horrifying sight. Jessie had desecrated the living room floor, covering nearly everything bar the puppy pad. Naturally my mother was furious. After reading about the effects of low glucose levels, I advised her to make an appointment with the vet to have them carry out further tests to decide if she needed an extra injection a day. The appointment was made, and then it happened.jessie

On their walk, my mother noticed Jessie was stepping over the path carefully as if there were obstacles there. She was tripping up and walking into objects. When she looked into Jessie’s eyes she was stunned to find them completely clouded over. The vet had told already told us her eyes were starting to cloud, but this was so sudden. She immediately rang the vet and brought her appointment forward. I was in work oblivious to all of this when I found a text message on my phone sent twenty minutes earlier: ‘Can you ring me?’ I immediately knew something was wrong.

Naturally I was, and still am, devastated. My poor little angel is never going to see again. Her life is now shrouded in darkness and fear. I cried more than once. I did research and tried to be positive but it always came back to the unfairness of it all. I don’t know what happened to her in the first six years of her life and I’m not sure I want to, but from what I can deduce I truly believe she has suffered. Her life is supposed to be easy now, relaxing and happy. Now it’s been cruelly snatched from her and I’m helpless.

As I type she is now in the vet, having her glucose tested throughout the day to determine whether or not her dose of insulin needs to be increased. I hated leaving her. She didn’t recognise the voice of the nurse and seemed so frightened as she was carried away from me. Now she’s surrounded by unfamiliarity, believing her family, who promised to love and care for her, have abandoned her when she needs them the most. I long to leave work and drive straight to her, but unfortunately I have to cruel to be kind.

Now all I can do is wait…