Tribute to Tia: our Beloved Pug
We Miss you Tia
This lens is dedicated to our four-legged family member of 10 years, our pug Tia. With Tia we learned about disability and adapting life to be as full as possible.
Blind dogs can still have full lives. My husband and I each learned how we handle medical issues. I saw a "stick-to-it-ness" in my husband that reassures me as we enter our golden years.
Tia passed away the day after Thanksgiving this year, leaving our home without a dog for the first time in over twenty years. Our daily life is not the same
If you've had a pet throughout its life you know how much they teach us. The energy and love of life in youth. The caring and companionship of adulthood. The slowing down and enjoyment of naps in old age.
This lens is for anyone who's loved and lost their four-legged friend. Any sales or profits are donated to the Humane Society.
Learn more about pugs
Joining our Home
We met Tia when she was 8 weeks old. A family advertised two pugs left in their litter, and since our schipperke had recently passed we wanted another companion for our cocker spaniel (Sammy).
My husband and I weren't sure what breed we wanted to bring into the home, so we called several ads as well as the local humane society. We went to Tia's home not really expecting to bring her home -- but she changed our mind.
When we entered the house to meet the family, I knelt down to pet the mother dog. Tia came from the back of the house, running like a streak, and jumped directly into my lap. My husband laughs that it was as though she was saying "It'as about time - I've been waiting for you!"
Our high-energy pug (a seeming contradiction in terms) won our heart and came home to join our family.
Playing with Sammy
Part of the job of a puppy is to keep the family young. Tia's energy was constant, and Sammy was a patient 'auntie'. They played together until Tia crashed from exhaustion.
Sammy Letting Tia Think She Won
And the game continues.......
Injury: Eye One
Tia's constant full-speed-ahead approach to life had consequences. Before she was two years hold she hurt her left eye playing with Sammy. This same eye developed a detached retina later in life.
Our first trip to the veterinary opthamologist occurred when the medical drops wouldn't stop the eye swelling. We'd never heard of veterinary opthamologists before -- but we'd learn. :-) Unfortunately the eye could not be saved, and Tia learned to live with one eye.
Two years after finding Sammy my husband met a family that needed to find a home for their male pug, Bob. Bob joined Tia and Sammy in our home.
Bob was a more typical pug, more interested in naps than races around the house. Tia tried to keep him running for a while. Eventually she slowed down as well and started napping with Bob.
Tia's favorite position was sleeping next to or partly on top of Bob. She couldn't bear the idea of not knowing where he was.
Middle Age, Another Eye
Eventually Sammy passed on, and we grieved. Bob and Tia had each other and continued their side-by-side life. While Tia had slowed some, she was by no means sedentary. She still loved our daily walks, spun in crazy circles every time she saw food. and tried to wrestle with Bob whenever he was willing.
We don't know how she injured her cornea, but I expect her full-tilt lifestyle had something to do with it. Another round of visits to the veterinary opthamologist ensued. Her injury was severe -- eye surgery attempted to repair it. My husband and I took turns waking up every two hours to give her the medicine and eye drops, for two weeks solid.
Despite our best efforts Tia lost her second eye. She was 100% blind.
Life with a Blind Dog
Sudden blindness changed a few things. We built ramps over the stairs to the back yard. We helped Tia re-train to use the doggie door by feel. Throw rugs were placed strategically to give her tactile clues to where she was in the house. And of course, we put a baby gate at the top of the stairs to the basement.
Tia put her energy to use the first couple weeks circling the house, over and over. She got lost a couple times the first few days, but soon built her own mental map of the house. She trained herself. I read accounts of other blind dogs doing the same thing. I learned that dogs rely more on hearing and smell than they do sight -- apparently blindness isn't as much of a handicap for dogs as it is for us.
Soon Tia could navigate our house and fenced yard completely on her own. She still managed to find Bob to try to wrestle with him. She could even root through their toy box to find a toy to bring us.
I put bells on Bob's harness so Tia could tell where he was during our walks. Tia loved her walks with or without eyesight. She stayed near Bob, sometimes right up next to him, and hated to come home. We taught her the meaning of "step up" and "step down" as cues for navigating street curbs.
By the time of this picture both Tia's eyes have been removed. She looks like she's just closed her eyes....
Follow this link to read an article I wrote about living with blind dogs and learn more.
Help for living with a blind dog
Bob in his later years
What a sweet face....
Eventually Bob passed on, and Tia slowed down. As an aging blind dog Tia couldn't really adapt to another dog coming into the home, so we kept Tia as our only dog. My husband and I gave her extra attention and care. There's no doubt she was spoiled.
When her arthritis prevented Tia from going on walks we got a doggie stroller and pushed her on our strolls. She LOVED sitting in her 'chariot' and sniffing the air as we walked through the neighborhood.
Help your aging dog thrive
This is an excellent book to help you care for your aging dog. She gives you concrete tips for exercise, food, health issues, and more.
How to Walk With Your Aging Dog
When your senior dog gets arthritis that keeps him from going for walks with you, consider a pet stroller. Our dog loved being able to smell the air, and happily rode during our strolls.
This stroller allowed me to walk or run with Tia. The front wheel's design could handle dirt paths or paved streets with equal ease -- nothing slowed me down and Tia loved it! There's an interior tie strap to connect to your dog's harness or collar. I added a light blanket over the padded bottom, connected Tia to the tie, and off we went!
All good things come to an end. Arthritis medicine no longer controlled Tia's pains. She had a rehabbed torn ACL in front right, arthritis in front left, and more arthritis in her rear back. Thanksgiving day she spent most of the evening in my lap while family members ate and chatted with us. She got lots of treats and she slept the rest of the time. When she tried to stand up the pain was obvious. It was time. With tears we called the vet Friday morning and made the appointment. I held her as she slipped to the next life.
Our loving Tia taught us to play more, to work through injuries and to find ways to enjoy the small things in life. We will miss her always.
This is How I Remember Tia
All energy, ready to for anything!
Tia's Final Legacy
A home for McCloud
An update: it's been a little over three months since Tia passed. There will always be a spot in our heart for our memories of Tia -- we still miss her.
Last week we decided to welcome a rescue dog into our home. McCloud, a 10 year old cocker spaniel, had spent six weeks in a kennel because his owner could no longer have pets.
Our adopting McCloud is part of Tia's legacy: our experience dealing with her medical problems left us more than capable of caring for McCloud -- a special needs dog.
McCloud has glaucoma and has already lost one eye. His remaining eye has both glaucoma and cataracts. He can see just enough to navigate through our home, barely. We know he'll lose his sight as well at some point, and are ready to help him through that change. Thanks to Tia, McCloud now has a family he can rely on for the rest of his days.