Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A blind dog, our best companion

Nitro -  a shih Tzu breed with a nice gold and white hair which I often received compliments by dog lovers on how good looking and well groomed he is (I'm not boasting!).  He was our second dog by chance.  Our first dog was a female named Nicole.  She was only 3 months, a tiny little puppy with mixed colour of black/brown/white, when we brought her home from the Pet Lovers shop at Simei.    Unfortunately, she refused to eat and kept whining for nights that we, have no choice, but to return back to the pet shop for fear that she might die of hunger.  The pet shop agreed to do a swap but could not reimbursement the money.  And then, the care taker showed us a bigger puppy that claimed to have an Australia parent due to his size.  He was just the opposite of Nicole.  Super active!  Always jumping around and chewing off the handler's shoe lace mischievously.   My hubby liked him instantly and decided to bring him home.  We named him 'Nitro' short for nitrogen.  Nitrogen is volatile and explosive nature in gas and just like this puppy - restless and energetic. 

We sent Nitro for obedience classes every weekend with dr-dogs at Hougang.  Because he is an alpha male and we have not successfully trained him to walk along with us.  During our walks, he was always leading and dragging me behind.  However, he never destroyed our furniture or cabinets around the house.  And he did his poo and urinate business at the designated poo pan.  We love him to the bits and treated him as part of our family.  We had great time together be it at home or in a park playing hide and seek.  I wrote more about Nitro's character earlier here.   Having Nitro was a blessing in disguise.  A year later, I was pregnant after many futile attempts of conceiving.  He was our lucky star and my best companion during my ups and downs. 

With an additional family member, we kind of neglected his presence.  But he did not give us any trouble or showed his jealous of the baby.  I was told by my mum that he even slept quietly besides my baby one night.  I was surprised.  It was nice to have a guarding angel, right?  Guilty as charged.  I might be over-reacting at times and scolded Nitro for the mishaps at home like poo and pee other places except the poo pan. 

Baby was growing up every day and I have been kept busy all the time from nursing, changing diapers and rocking the baby to sleep.  Indeed, I felt sorry for neglecting him.  Time passed, toddler started to show interest with this fluffy furball.  Pulling his tail or hair while I was not looking.  Nitro did not like it at all.  His retaliation was a nip on my little boy's hands or feets.   Next moment, I got a crying toddler and I got mad with Nitro too. Other than that, Nitro was nice and never once given my son a nasty bite.  We did walks together with my baby in the stroller.  It was not easy to control especially Nitro always charged ahead of us.

Preschooler began to understand Nitro is a dog.  Walks together has been a routine for Mommy and son.  Watched Nitro pooed and marked his territory against trees and lamp post was a familiar but not a disgusting sight (which seemingly unpleasant to some kids who does not own a dog).  Some times, they have an indoor ball game since Nitro loves to play fetch and is a big fan of any kinds of balls especially squeaky ones.  It was a joy to see my two playful 'boys' having fun together.

Until 11 March 2014 mid morning - a normal Tuesday and also the day my mum visited us.  I noticed Nitro was unusually quiet and behaved sheepishly.  Every steps was cautiously executed and he has tendency to knock/bump onto the cabinets and wall.  And he did not respond when I called him. Worried and I held him close starring at him but he looked away.  I sensed that he could not see me and immediately after my son finished school, I brought him to the Mt Pleasant clinic at Bedok for a thorough check. He was blind and has high blood pressure.  The blood test showed he was healthy and no organs failure.  The vet prescribed fortekor and asked me to wait and see if there was chance he could recover.  Shocked and sad, we decided to seek second and even third opinion from another vet at Serangoon North. The result was the same.  Nitro is blind and zero possibility of reversible due to retinal atrophy in his right eye and retinal detachment on his left eye. And he has to take amlodipine for life to maintain his blood pressure.  I was in tears during the first few visit to the vet's clinic as the vet explained to us.  For the first week, he was quite reluctant to walk and bump onto curbs at times.  He also fell into the drain once (my fault).  He has also been quiet during the transition period.  On a lighter note, blind dog apparently adapts very well.  His other senses actually helped him to navigate. Indeed, a week later, Nitro began to show eagerness for walks just like before and resume its playful self.  And for a moment, we thought he could see us but that was our wishful thinking. 

We are glad Nitro is happy again.  He is still our best companion and my precious!

This video depicts the onset of his blindness.

This video shows his playful self after one week.

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