A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR ME: BATTERSEA LETS THE LIGHT INTO BLIND DOG’S LIFE
23 MAY 2019
A one-eyed and blind French Bulldog cross named Pirate is about to start an adventurous life after finding a new family at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
Before coming into the charity’s care, one-year-old Pirate had never left his previous home. Because he was born blind, the young dog’s previous owner assumed he wouldn’t need walking; unlike his namesake, Pirate never knew what it was like to explore 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!”
Before coming to Battersea, Pirate had also never been seen by a vet and needed multiple veterinary treatments. These included basic vaccinations as well as more intricate eye removal surgery.
Thankfully it wasn’t long before Pirate found a new home with Christine and her husband Jack. Christine works in Recruitment at Battersea, and first fell in love with Pirate when she spotted him in kennels.
Christine said: “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, which will help him 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 continues: “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.”
If you’d like to give a Battersea dog a home, please visit www.battersea.org.uk.
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.
- Battersea is here for every dog and cat and has been since 1860. Since it was founded over 150 years ago, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
- We believe that every dog and cat deserves the best. That’s why we aim to never turn away a dog or cat in need.
- Battersea helps nearly 7,000 dogs and cats across its three centres and uses its expertise, influence, and voice to help thousands more animals all over the country and across the world.
- Battersea cares for an average of 250 dogs and 120 cats across its three centres at any one time.
- There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at Battersea, but the average stay for a dog is 35 days and 23 days for a cat.
- In addition to the site in South West London, Battersea also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
- For further information on Battersea, please visit www.battersea.org.uk.
- Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or facebook.com/Battersea