Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is encouraging people not overlook disabled dogs and is offering advice on how best to care for them, after finding a new home for a blind, one-eyed French Bulldog called Pirate.
Pirate is heading off on an adventure after finding a new family at the charity.
Before coming into the charity’s care, Pirate had never left his previous home. His owner believed that because he was born blind, he wouldn’t need to be walked and so Pirate has never explored the outside world.
Rebecca MacIver, Rehoming and Welfare Manager at Battersea says, “Dogs heavily rely on their sense of smell to explore the world around them and even if your dog is blind, their disability shouldn’t hold them back from doing all of the regular things that dogs do.
“When Pirate first arrived, he was quite apprehensive and nervous of the outside world. But, since being in our care he has had his first taste of adventure- he went on his first ever proper walk and was allowed to explore his surroundings in a search for hidden treasures. He has also met lots of people and dogs and now has quite a crew!”
The Frenchie had also never been seen by a vet before coming to the centre and required multiple veterinary treatments, including basic vaccinations and intricate eye removal surgery.
After recovering, pirate soon found a home with Christine, who works in recruitment at the charity, and her husband Jack.
Christine says, “The first time I saw Pirate his head perked up and his right ear flopped down and I thought he was just the sweetest looking little boy. When they told me he was blind, I felt like my heart was going to burst! I made up my mind quite quickly that I wanted to take him home.”
The couple are teaching Pirate spoken commands to help him navigate the outside world so he can gain more confidence while out exploring.
Christine continues, “Pirate has been on quite a few walks since being with us. He was extremely nervous of even walking out the front door the first time we took him out. Now he’s gaining more confidence and walking beside or ahead of us rather than nervously behind us. He’s even mastering ‘step up’ and ‘step down’ when there’s stairs or changes in pavement.
“He is such a lovely addition to our family, we’re absolutely in love with him and we wouldn’t have him any other way.”
Rebecca MacIver adds, “Pirate is the perfect example of why people should consider adopting an animal with a disability. Despite being blind and not previously having any experience of the outside world, he’s taken everything in his stride and can now live the fulfilled and exciting life that he deserves.”
Battersea’s top tips for caring for a blind dog:
Give your dog a safe zone – It’s important to establish an area that’s comfortable and safe, which will act as a retreat for your blind pet. A large soft-padded bed is helpful to keep them comfortable.
Introduce new commands to increase safety – Teach your dog important words like “step up,” “step down,” “left,” “right,” “danger” or “stop” to help them navigate the inside and outside world in the safest way possible.
Talk to your dog frequently- Your dog is already one of your most trusted friends, so having regular conversations with your blind dog will be even more important. The sound of your voice can help them figure out where you are. Always talk to your dog to get their attention before touching them so you don’t scare or startle them.
Dog-proof your home – Get down on all fours and crawl around your home looking for hazards, such as things they could dangerously bump into or fall from. Put corner protectors on sharp furniture and baby gates at the tops of stairs until your dog can safely manoeuvre staircases.
Use scents during activities – A dog is a dog, so they can still fetch! Therefore, you can and should engage in active play with them. Rub a dog treat on a dog toy before throwing it to help your dog find it and choose an open, safe area for them to play in.
Create location cues – If your living room has a distinct rug, it could be a cue your blind dog will remember. This will help them understand where in the house they are.
Always keep food and water in the same place – Once your dog has learned where their food is, it will be easier for them to return to it — and it will become another location cue.