Our Bump and Go Girl
When Mary brought a little 12 year old, six and a half pound Maltese mix to our home in Racine to foster in Sept, 2002, we had never seen a dog with such white eyes. It was curious. Her pupils reacted to light and dark, but her eyes were almost pure white. We learned that she had "hyper mature" cataracts, or a condition that she had had for a very long time. We estimated she had about 5% vision at that time, mostly just seeing shadows and light. When she came into Rescue, her blood tests showed elevated liver functions and blood sugar, suggesting she might have Cushing’s disease. After a month on the diet I fed her, her blood test results showed great improvement. We knew she had bad arthritis in her back, but she never complained.
Missy acted like a dog half her age, she had energy and played with toys and would bat a ball away with her feet if she felt it. She had little fear of new situations and was not at all aggressive because of her blindness. She would always walk around with her tail up in the air waving it like a little flag. No wonder the lady who fostered her in Indiana before our Rescue took her called her Happy Camper. She really was a happy dog and she fit in with the rest of the family very well. No wonder we failed Fostering 101! We adopted her in January, 2003. In October, 2003 she surprised us with her resiliency and adjustment to a new environment when we moved to Washington. She just walked around the house getting a feel for where everything was placed. I think she built up a road map in her head.
In November 2003 we had her blood tested again, and we were delighted to see that everything was normal! It was a tremendous relief for us, but we continued to notice a deterioration of her eyes. We wondered if she was a candidate for surgery to have a better quality of life in her remaining years. We would love to see her chase those balls she so happily pushed away with her feet, and play chase with the other dogs when she got into the play bow, like, “come on guys, I want to run!” And sometimes she did.
A Veterinary Eye Specialist in Seattle told us that dogs with cataracts this advanced are at great risk to get inflammation in their eyes and eventually glaucoma. I had noticed that there was a pinkishness around Missy's eyes and that she did not have black rims like Malts are supposed to, but I did not know that it probably meant inflammation within her eyes. He gave me eye drops to administer once a day and almost immediately I noticed the skin around her eyes was darker and she had black rims! Unfortunately, her left retina detached after the exams, but thankfully this is not painful for a dog. Her right eye was only in fair condition, and the vet said she had only a 75% chance of regaining vision. If Missy did not have the cataract surgery, there was still a chance she would develop glaucoma anyway.
We decided not to put her through the trauma of surgery, and it was not long before Missy developed glaucoma in one eye, and then the other. In 2005 she needed to have her left eye removed because we could not control the glaucoma. It was very traumatic for us, but in the long run we knew Missy felt better. Then her right eye worsened and become infected, so we eventually had that removed as well.
What is amazing is that through all of this, she never lost her spirit and she continued to walk around sniffing and sensing her environment and wagging her tail high in the air. We called her our little “Bump and Go” girl because if she bumped into something, she just continued to go on in a different direction. We marveled and laughed that she would walk and never stop until she found her way to the laundry room shower stall where we kept the dog food, and bark, saying “I want more food!” If she got lucky, she might find her big sister’s dog bowl on the floor, and she would put both front feet in it to hold it still and lick it until it was shiny clean. And being blind did not stop her from finding the most comfortable spot in our daughter’s house. She was not afraid to climb and balance and sleep.
Totally blind and almost completely deaf, she loved nothing more than to gobble down her food and sleep the day away. If she was with mom, all was right with the world. If I had to get up to do things, she let me know when I had been gone too long by barking. In 2007 she took a fall and broke a small bone in her left front foot. She was in a cast, but six weeks later her foot was as good as new. Eventually her spine deteriorated to the point where 2 vertebrae fused, and the two on either side were damaged as well, but she still never complained. There were 5 teeth left in her mouth, but it didn’t affect her appetite. In her later years we had to carry her everywhere when we were inside because we might find a piddle trail if we put her on the floor, but it was never a bother. In June she survived a 3 week trip in our RV to the 2009 Maltese Picnic in Wisconsin, and then a visit to Colorado. In the end she succumbed to congestive heart failure on Sunday July 5, 2009. It was a very, very hard day for us. We still see her in her favorite places, in the recliner, licking the dog bowl or walking around outside with that tail in the air. We remember the joy she brought us, her strong will and tough spirit that kept her going and going and going.
This spunky little girl added so much to our lives, we can hardly imagine life without her. We had her 7 years, and she was 19 when she passed away.
Baby Girl, we will miss you terribly. You will live on in our hearts forever.
Trudy & Tom Peischl