CHALKIE – Beyond Vision
Fourteen years ago a little 6 month old pup that we had been fostering left us for pastures new taking a big piece of our heart with him. Such a very special little fellow but again one that would have been overlooked by so many because of what they would perceive as his ‘handicap’ which we had confirmed by a top specialist. However, it is certainly no handicap to Chalkie. Here, his ‘mum’ Sandra tells you his story with his best buddy Bosley and photos to illustrate a point beautifully.
Double trouble, or twice the fun?
“14 years ago on 19 August, two very special chaps came into our world. We travelled to Wiltshire to see Robert and Jacqui to meet Bosley (6 months old). We had received a beautiful photo of him and couldn’t wait to be introduced. We didn’t expect to have our hearts melted twice that day. Bos’s partner in mischief at Westie HQ was the stunning Chalkie (5 months). Born without sight, but to say he had all the confidence in the world was an understatement! He was the sole survivor of a litter of six, who were destroyed because they were blind. What a waste of five souls that could have still enjoyed a real quality of life! The boys had become good pals during their few weeks with the charity, so needless to say, we adopted them both and they travelled back home with us.
They settled in very quickly. We filled in the pool, took down the greenhouse and added extra gates to protect them, but in particular Chalkie. Safety first when they started hurtling around the garden at top Westie speed. They learned their party tricks together, sit, lie-down, paw and hunt the treat. Chalkie loves tennis balls, rugby balls and footballs. His ball skills are incredible, and no bells to help. His favourite pastime in the summer is to retrieve said toys from out of the paddling pool, jump out and bark until we throw them back in.
Visitors are usually greeted with a ‘present’ for them. He will excitedly and unprompted fetch a toy, shoe or even his blanket as a welcome gift. he is extraordinary and fearless. Chalkie checks out a new environment /space by cleverly using his nose, ears and touch. He negotiates any obstacles as though he can visualise them, it’s impressive to witness. Outside space means additional scent marking, which in his early days involved a ‘paw stand’. He seems to have a mind map of places that he has visited, and once he’s checked everything out, there’s no stopping him.
He sees everything in his own way and without exception, everyone who has met him cannot believe he has absolutely no vision. In fact, we adopted another Westie, Molly who was blind and elderly, she and the boys got on famously for the twenty-two months she was with us. Her skills were not as well-honed, but we worked with her to make her feel safe and reassured. Along came another girl with skin issues; she fitted in beautifully – a sister in the pack helps the balance. Sadly, Poppy left us a year last April and both boys really missed her – she ruled the roost. Since then, Polly (9 years) joined the family and the boys were thrilled.
Sadly, dear Bosley died in February this year; that was a very sad time for us all, but especially for Chalkie. He had lost his ‘brother’ of nearly 13 years; his playmate, his sleeping and walking companion. A very tough few weeks followed as we watched him searching for Bos. With TLC and distraction, different walks with new sniffs and with Polly to entertain him (and us), he adapted and his unique Chalkiness returned.
Chalkie has always enjoyed walks where he can run free (obviously if it’s safe), he loves getting the sand between his paws; a paddle in any water results in an ecstatic waggy tail. Over the years, he’s entered dog shows and no-one has guessed about his lack of vision. He’s a very fine figure of a Westie. Now at 14.4 years, he has the energy of a dog half his age, the muscle tone of an elite athlete and the heart of a little lion. His hearing has deteriorated recently, but smell and touch help him maintain a wonderful quality of life.
He’s a very special Westie and we’re so blessed that he owns us!”