Pet of the Day

April 18, 1998

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Bear, the Pet of the Day
Name: Bear
Age: Eleven years old
Gender: Male
Kind: Collie
Home: Martinsburg, West Virginia, USA
   I have two collies and a Sheltie but I hate to say it; but Bear is my favorite. He is very gentle yet demands a human's respect. Because of his lack of sight too much activity upsets him. He likes his life to be peaceful and calm. Even though he's blind he still can do anything another dog can do. Just slower. He can't fetch anymore. But he is willing to do anything a blind dog can do. For instance he give you 5. He doesn't know how to shake hands, He knows his left from his right. He knows to stop on command so he doesn't run into anything. He can go to strange places. If he has to go up steps you tap the step and he listens and climbs the steps as you tap them. If he's headed toward something you can tell him to turn left or right to avoid a collision. Or tell him to stop and he stops on a dime. We have two acres here and he knows every inch of it. He can be free at home. He knows his way. In strange places I lead him with voice commands.

    Bear is usually very calm but can be forceful if there's too much going on. He will bite if someone just walks up to him before he gets their scent. He's always been the type of dog that has to come to you. You don't just walk up to him. He never gives women a problem. Definitely prefers women. Loves perfume! Usually would rather stay away from men.

    The vet says it's hereditary blindness but I have doubts about that. I came home from work one day and he had a big lump between his eyes. He looked like a unicorn. Two days later I looked at his eyes and one was completely black. No brown showing and he was bumping into things. I took him to a specialist in Baltimore and she said the retina was detached in one eye and the other one was starting to detach. I think the neighbor stoned him for barking at him and that's what caused the retinas to detach. Bear was miserable for awhile. He had been the dominant male and had to forfeit that to Pal, my other collie. That broke his heart. He was depressed. So we worked together to learn how I could help. I learned from him and he learned from me. Luckily he always was very smart and calm and he gave it his all. It took years for him to be able to go anywhere with me but with the voice commands he can. Now he is a very gentle loving dog. Bear went blind at 5 years old. He is 11 now. Pal, the other collie does lead him quite a bit. Waits and barks to him so he can follow. There is no more hostility between them. They've come to an understanding. I think Pal knows Bear has a problem. Bear fought to be the alfa male. Pal took it from him but never hurt him doing it. Just held Bear down to show his dominance. Pal showed a wonderful understanding of the situation. Today there is no competition between them. Neither male is neutered.

    But 3 months ago I got a Sheltie that was neglected. Prince is 9. Prince rules both collies! They don't seem to feel he's a threat! He's their little mascot!

    Bear is definitely all collie. Bear has worked so hard to lead a decent life. He's big. He weighs 97 pounds and he's slim. Pal weighs 92 and is slim. They are big for collies, yet both are AKC. Guess it's our West Virginia air!

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