Many people are concerned when their dog starts to lose its sight – how will it find its way around? We made the choice to adopt a blind dog as they are always harder to find forever homes. And it has been a revelation, not least because wherever he goes out in public wearing his Blind Dog harness, it’s always a conversation starter with most people.
We adopted Rosie and blind Bo (Bocelli of course!) nearly 2 years ago, they have stayed in kennels whenever we have gone on holiday. The owner is a very quietly spoken calm man who works with rescued German Shepherds so he is very sympathetic to our 2 rescued hounds. However, we’ve always missed having our dogs with us on holiday, for beach walks etc.
In April we rented a cottage at Sutton on Sea on the Lincolnshire coast to see how both dogs would adjust to new surroundings, especially blind Bo. We live in a bungalow so he is used to all rooms on the ground floor. The cottage also had all rooms on the ground floor and a very enclosed rear garden, so perfect for our podencos.
Within a couple of hours of arriving and after walking Bo through the rooms and into the garden, he was able to find his way around without bumping into anything. He uses his nose to follow our scent and Rosie’s scent – so no worries about him having a problem. And the same evening as we arrived, both dogs were snuggled up on their beds.
After this holiday was so successful, we decided we would try caravanning with the 2 dogs. I found a facebook page Camping and Caravanning with Greyhounds and Sighthounds which was brilliant for sounding out what equipment I needed to buy to keep both dogs safe on a camp site. Our caravan is too small to sleep the dogs inside, but the awning has an annex which would be perfect for their bedroom.
Blind Bo was chained up for the first few years of his life, so no way did I want to tether him. Result – a dog playpen! They come in different heights depending on the size of dog and depending on the amount of room needed for the dogs. So I purchased the 6 panel size which we set up on the lawn to test the dogs’ reaction. We decided it needed to be a bit bigger for 2 dogs to sleep overnight, so I purchased 2 additional panels. Perfect size, we could comfortably get 2 dog beds in.
So, caravan packed, suitcases packed and Parsley Box meals so we didn’t have to search for dog friendly places for dining, we headed off to a dog friendly caravan site, Diglea Caravan Park, at Snettisham on the north Norfolk coast – with Snettisham beach a short way at the end of the lane. One of the first jobs was to erect the dog pen so both dogs could be safely confined whilst we sorted out caravan, awning and annex. I draped large towels over the sides of the dog pen to make the enclosure draft free for the dogs to sleep and with no fuss atall both dogs happily went into the dog pen and curled up.
I’d also bought a large windbreak to erect outside the awning so the dogs had a small safe area off lead but unfortunately OH had not practised erecting it at home and he struggled on site – I think we must have been the entertainment on the site that day!
The pitch and site were ideal for our first caravan holiday with our hounds. There was quite a large grass area outside where the dogs could wee last thing before bed, and a short walk down a path led to a lovely grassy dog walk around the perimeter of the large campsite – poo bins thoughtfully placed for cleaning up after dogs.
(blind Bo) We struck lucky with the weather, lovely sunshine for beach walks and Rosie enjoyed running free and exploring. On the North Norfolk coast the tide goes out a long way into The Wash, so no chance for Rosie to be encouraged to have a paddle in the sea. There are lovely long walks along the cliff tops at Hunstanton and a convenient cafe for snack lunches meant a chance to chat dogs and breeds with other dog owners. Bo with his Blind Dog harness is always a conversation starter.
I was delighted another day when walking with Rosie on the Holme Dun Nature Reserve to be stopped by a young lady who recognised Rosie as a Podenco – not many people here know the breed. Turned out she had a friend with 2 podencos, one of whom was an escape artst! Another day on the cammpsite I met a couple who also had friends with a podenco. So lovely when people recognise Rosie’s breed and I get a chance to talk Podencos.
It was late afternoon when we visited Brancaster Beach – the sky was overcast so the beach was virtually deserted. The tide was out and Rosie – excited to have such a large empty expanse in front of her - set off zooming almost into the distance! I know she won’t leave me – she has separation anxiety – but I do panic when she is in freedom mode!
After 4 lovely days on holiday with our hounds, a terrible thunderstorm overnight resulted in a flooded pitch. Amazingly the hounds had slept calmly through it all but I made the decision to pack up and come home. Wet clothes, wet dogs, wet towels – no way to spend a holiday!
So all in all, our first caravan holiday with our 2 Podencos, one of which is blind, was a great success.
For anyone whose dog is losing its sight, don’t be concerned, they adapt extremely well using their ears and noses to find their way around. The downside is that you can’t let them wander free, unless in an enclosed space like a dog park.