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Life Through Walter’s Eyes

If I had to choose just one word to describe Walter, it would be “endearing”. Walter is not only a very likable dog, he’s lovable with an endearing quality.

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Walter is a wonder, that after suffering severe neglect he only wants to be loved and make the rest of his life the best he can make it.

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After BCFS rescued him and worked magic on Walter for weeks he became the dog he was meant to be.

Lori looked after Walter for a week and this is what she had to say: Walter was friendly when we picked him up for a week of puppy-sitting. Once at our house, he quickly chose to trust me. Saturday morning, after less than two days with Walter, he’d taken to me and danced when I came downstairs. He followed me everywhere and his unique personality emerged.

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Walter is a senior chocolate and cream shih tzu mix who was badly neglected, then surrendered to a shelter. BCFS rescued Walter on May 29th and treated his eye, skin and ear infections, plus a dental requiring 23 rotting teeth to be pulled. In safe arms and with good vet care, Walter changed. My family and I had the privilege of caring for Walter the last week of June.

I expected Walter to have a black nose like our shih tzu Bailey’s, but his nose is chocolate brown like a Hershey’s Kiss. Walter is almost completely deaf and blind due to the eye, ear and skin infections he suffered from his neglect, though his vision is improving with medicated eye drops.

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I looked at him and alternated between thinking, “Aww, poor little boy” and “He’s so special.”

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I’ve had lifelong dogs before who went deaf in their senior years but never a dog who’d suffered neglect and is both blind and deaf, so this was a learning experience. What did I learn from Walter, from empathizing with him and imagining what it’s like to be in his paws?

What a good heart Walter has. Walter is clearly glad to be alive. He makes the most of what he has and though his eyes are dim and his ears may pick up only a few faint sounds, he still can sense and feel, taste and most important for a dog, smell. He loves being petted, he loves food, a clean comfy home, fresh air and a balmy breeze in his face with his face raised to the sun, and companionship.

DSCN3167expcropsharpresizedWalter often stood or paused on walks facing the breeze and sun
DSCN3146expsatsharpresizedWalter loves to sniff his way around, he’s engaged with life and his surroundings

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Walter didn’t come through his trials unscathed but he seems to have chosen to forgive or forget whomever neglected him and make a fresh start. Walter has a very special quality to him, of vulnerability, of wanting someone he can trust and place his faith in, wondering if anyone loves him, if he’s wanted in the world or not.

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He has a bit of a wounded heart, but also seems to know he has a great deal of life left to live. Dogs live in the moment and Walter doesn’t want to waste time dwelling on the past. He wants a future to look forward to.

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Walter loves his frisky fun, dancing around when he feels secure with his people. Yes, DANCING! Senior Walter reminds us that you’re only as old as you feel and he gets puppyish at times. Like on his second night here when my mom petted him and I captured Walter dancing on video.

Walter is willing to trust again, despite whatever he’s suffered in life. Clearly he’s either scarred from bad experiences or feels insecure due to his loss of sight and sound, but his trust can be gradually won with kindness and gentle hands.

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Walter nipped me and my mom a few times, but with only 10 teeth left it didn’t break our skin or hurt much. I learned that if I put my hand in front of his face to let him smell me first, he usually didn’t nip.

Walter likes his bum and back rubbed but is touchy about his face. He let me pet the back of his neck and ears and after he took to my dad he let him pet his face and whole head.

Walter likes both women and men and was friendly with our Bailey, adopted from BCFS. Unfortunately Bailey later had difficulty accepting Walter in “his” house where he’s been an “only child” and has had us all to himself for a year and a half.

DSCN2895sharpresizedBailey liked Walter until it came to snack time

Walter loves to explore all his surroundings, letting his nose, sense of feeling and his very dim eyesight guide him. After his first day here, Walter had already spent hours exploring the entire main floor of our house and easily found his way around after a few days.

As impaired as his vision is, he seems to be able to see bright light and shadows and is a good navigator except for stairs – we were careful to keep our kitchen door to the back hall stairs closed. Walter meanders around the house a lot, but also slept more after he felt comfortable here.

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Walter was sweet to watch sleeping, with his pink tongue sticking out.

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Walter’s good on a leash and quite easy to guide around on walks outside though he can’t see much.  See video. He feels the gentle directional pull of the leash on his harness and seemed to follow the scents of me, my mom and Bailey.

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When outside of our home, Bailey liked Walter and the two boys liked to walk together. Fit, bouncy Bailey didn’t mind pausing for slow-poke Walter and me to catch up. Both dogs were extremely patient when my mom and I stopped to chat with neighbors during our walks. Walter met many of our neighbors and was friendly with everyone, even accepting dog treats from our friends down our street. Because Walter is blind, during walks he needs his human to carefully watch out for him and guide him safely outside.

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What does Walter need? How does he handle life being vision impaired?  Just how special is he? Please  see Part 2 of Walter’s BCFS post  for more info, photos and videos of this exceptional boy!

 

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