August 23, 2020 was a game changing day at our house. Our poor little 10 year old Boston Terrier Scrappy, woke up completely blind. There was no real reason for it. He had been carrying about his normal lifestyle the day before, and we had no real idea this was coming, other than the fact that Boston’s are known to have eye problems, especially the ones like Scrappy who have buggier eyes. Over these past few months, it’s been an eye-opening experience (pardon the pun!), learning about resilience in particular, through our little pet.
What is Resilience?
According to Oxford’s English dictionary, resilience is “…the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Scrappy has proven throughout his 10 years on this earth, that he has a lot of this character trait. Just like his name implies, this little guy is a fighter. He’s fought through eating and passing 4 sharp double ended toothpicks (ouch!), getting most of his teeth pulled because of his small mouth, and a pretty bad dog bite on his face that wasn’t his fault. He had even lost his first eye only 10 months ago, due to we think was caused from some rough play fighting with his younger brother, Milo.
Scrappy Has Taught Me 3 Things About Resilience
1. You can teach an ‘old’ dog, new tricks.
The number one thing Scrappy has taught me, is that we’re never to old to learn how to improve or build upon a pre-existing skill. He went blind when he was in in late 50s in dog years, yet within a few weeks he learned how to climb stairs, find his ball, water and food (of course!) and get around our home at a pretty quick pace. Shortly thereafter, he learned his way around our neighborhood, climbing up and down curbs with the help of his whiskers. This proves that even in our later years, if we’re open to learning new things, we’re able to do so. Getting older shouldn’t be an excuse for any of us to stop learning and embrace change.
2. Perseverance is critical to survival.
During the first week of him being blind, it was heartbreaking to watch little Scrappy bump continuously into walls, furniture and appliances. I think his most painful experiences were falling down our outdoor stairs a few times, and crashing head first into our metal outdoor patio set! It was after these accidents when we started to notice a few little cuts on his face. I just wanted to pick Scrappy up and carry him around everywhere at this point, but he’d have none of that. Nothing stopped the little guy. After each bump he had, he got up and tried walking around our home interior and backyard again and again until he was able to map the area out properly. If he had given up, he’d still be isolated to his bed and my arms, so thank goodness he persevered!
3. The Importance of play.
Scrappy loved playing before he went blind; both with his little brother Milo, and alone. If Scrappy is holding a toy he doesn’t want to let go of, there is no way to grab it, his jaw is that strong! For the first week after his blindness, his play stopped because he couldn’t figure out how to enjoy his favourite game catch, when he couldn’t see the ball. We could see the sadness in his face. He just laid there and didn’t move much.
Thankfully, we figured out our new version of play with Scrappy, by chance. My husband randomly started bouncing a ball on driveway one afternoon, and Scrappy went crazy! He raced towards the bouncing noise and found his ball. When our good friends gave him a few toys smelling like peanut butter, he took his play to a whole new level! He could once again find the ball we threw from its scent. Being able to play again gave Scrappy more confidence to move around quicker. He was able to venture further around our property, and begin interacting more with Milo and visitors we have over.
To Sum it Up…My Blind Dog has Taught Me A Lot About Resilience
Since our little Boston Terrier, Scrappy, has gone blind, he has proven yet again, that he’s able to recover quickly from life challenges. His resilience proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks. When we’re motivated and open learning something new, we can learn it at any age. Perseverance is critical to overcoming challenges. If Scrappy gave up trying to walk after falling down the stairs a few times, I’d be carrying him everywhere right now! And finally, my resilient little dog has taught me the importance of play. Play has increased Scrappy’s confidence to wonder around alone, and to interact once again with his brother and with our friends and family who visit.
I think it’s cool what we can learn from our animals, when we open our eyes and pay attention! What have you learned from your pets?