Esther SmithWelcome back, readers! I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my two-part pet series. Here’s what else I do to care for my little friend Tanda. This may all sound like a lot of trouble, but believe me, having an animal that is always glad to see you and loves you unconditionally can lighten your mood and make you feel special and always needed. Who couldn’t use that?

Feeding Your Pet

I use dry food that is dark against a lighter bowl. I also use a yellow scoop so that I can see the darker food. I store the food in a large plastic container for ease of use. You can also use a 1-cup measuring cup for scooping out the food. I fill the water bowl by putting my finger in the bowl and turning on the tap. That way I can tell when the water is nearing the top. I always keep the food in the same spot, on a floor that can be mopped or cleaned easily.

Exercise and Play

Pets, especially dogs, need exercise. So do you. What better motivation is there to do what the doctor orders? The easiest thing is to walk your dog in your yard. If you don’t want to go outside or don’t have a yard, you can walk around your house. I recommend using a leash when walking your dog, even if you are in the house. You can control your dog with the leash and train him or her to walk near your left foot. Eventually your dog will know this is the acceptable way to walk and will automatically take that position. What about fun? In addition to getting daily exercise, animals like their toys. Try to fit the size of the toy to the size of the animal, and purchase toys that contrast in color to your floors, so that you’re less likely to step on them. What about squeaky toys? Animals often love them, so if you get one for your pet, remember that he or she has one and don’t jump out of your skin if you step on it! If you’re afraid of falling over a toy, you may want to put your pet in a separate room with the toys, or even in a large cage.
Yorkshire Terrier Tanda lays on a pillow My little friend Tanda, a Yorkshire Terrier.

Grooming and Bathing

Grooming and bathing a pet can be a challenge but also a means of showing your pet your affection. I bathe Tanda (a 6-pound Yorkie) in the laundry sink. This is easy and I don’t have to bend over. Singing or talking softly calms your pet’s fear of the water. Towel dry and teach your pet to tolerate a warm, not hot, hair dryer on low speed. Soon your pet will love the “beauty” treatment. If you have a large animal, you may want to check out grooming services provided by your vet or a groomer.

Puppy Pads

If you have a dog that does not have access to the outside, or you are gone a great deal and have to leave your pet alone, you may want to invest in puppy pads and keep them in a place like a utility room or a bath. The pads come in white and contrast well against a dark floor and most dogs can be trained to use them. If you have a cat, consider using a type of litter that is flushable. That will make changing the litter box much easier.

Your Pet’s Medicine

Just like people, most animals have to take some form of medication, such as heart worm pills. Putting a pill in a piece of cheese and feeding it to your pet works well. If your animal takes several medications, you may have to sort them just as you have learned to do for your own medication. (Here’s more information on medication management.) Just make sure that you keep your pet’s medications in a different location from your own. You may want to consider using a daily medication organizer that is marked with tape or in some other way to differentiate it from your own. I learned the hard way! But that’s another story…. Esther

More about Esther Smith

Mrs. Smith has been involved in numerous volunteer activities in Dallas over the years, and is currently a member of the American Foundation for the Blind Center on Vision Loss Board and heads up the Center’s docent program. She was married for 47 years to Don Paul Smith, a noted inventor. Mrs. Smith is a graduate of Lindenwood College for Women in St. Charles, Missouri, and was a 2006 recipient of an honorary degree from the University of North Texas. In addition, she was head of the circulation department at the Fondren Library at Southern Methodist University for 11 years. Mrs. Smith has three daughters and seven grandchildren. For more about her experiences with macular degeneration, look for the AFB Press book, Out of the Corner of My Eye, in which she shares more of her insights, and view the video Esther and Gwen: A Mother and Daughter Story.
Listen to Esther Discussing Out of the Corner of My Eye

Transcript of Esther Discussing Out of the Corner of My Eye

Esther Smith: I have had the opportunity of reviewing several times the book entitled Out of the Corner of My Eye, and feel it is a wonderful learning tool for anyone who has that condition. The book was authored by Ms. Ringgold, who has had macular degeneration for some 10 years. It’s obvious that she’s a knowledgeable, educated woman who has chronilized her condition of macular degeneration from being a very slight case to an advanced case. I would certainly recommend either reading or listening to this book to anyone who has the condition of macular degeneration, not only to help you cope with your condition but also for your family to understand how you are coping and how they can help you.