After the success of the first “Pet of the Month” article on Total Croatia News, this month we feature Charlie.
It’s very hard to find a pet which could follow in Mona’s footsteps, considering she’s such a superhero dog, helping people who need some joy in their lives, so we decided to go the direct opposite way. This month, we present you Charlie.
We don’t really know his life’s story, and that’s kinda sad. What we know is that he is around 15 years old (and we’ve learnt that determining a dog’s age is not exact science, it’s just something vets do looking at the dog’s teeth and those estimates can vary significantly), and he was caught somewhere around Pakrac in the winter of 2012 by the people working in the animal shelter. He was already half blind at that point (he could basically distinguish between light and dark, and not run into objects during the daylight), and the photo they took of him when they advertised him on their website and Facebook was really, really bad (I’m unbelievably sorry I don’t have that photo saved somewhere, so I can’t show it to you now). The shelter he was in was a kill-shelter (luckily, since a couple of months ago, it’s illegal in Croatia for shelters to euthanize dogs), so he had only 60 days of life after they caught him. We saw him on their website (or Facebook, I’m not really sure anymore), and decided that we would save him and his buddy from the shelter. While there, they were given names Gogolj and Rufus (quite creative, right?)
The other doggo was smaller, younger and not blind, so we knew it won’t be any problem to find him a new home, and Charlie (that’s what we started calling him almost immediately, see photo explanation of why below) really hated the little guy. I mean, truth be told, he was annoying, and they were in a completely new environment and poor half-blind Charlie needed some time to adjust, and the kid just wouldn’t leave him alone, constantly chewing on his hind leg or doing other stupid idiotic puppy stuff! Luckily for Charlie, within a couple of days after he was advertised as ready for adoption, Buhi (the name is a pun in Croatian; buha means flea, and we named him that as he was annoying Charlie like a flea annoys dogs) went to his forever home where he’s still living, surrounded by as much love and joy as a dog can handle.
And Charlie has found his home with us. We discovered that he had a scar around his neck – a sign that at some point in his life he was on a chain, and for a long time. However, it was obvious that he has lived inside a house or an apartment, because he was house-trained, he knew what the couch and the pillows were for and he wasn’t afraid of the human touch, he yearned for it. Also, I believe that he lived with some small girls at some point, probably sometime before he got lost or was abandoned, as he reacted with a lot of joy to any girls we met on our walks, and markedly less so to little boys. He continued to hate other dogs (to this day we joke that he doesn’t really believe that he’s a dog), and sometimes he would get really aggressive around dogs. We learnt how to handle that, and he’s mostly gotten over that these days: while he doesn’t *like* any other dogs, he has found enough calm within himself to just ignore them. Except for that one guy that he really, really still hates, although the poor dog never did anything to him, he’s a happy-go-lucky doofus, and Charlie can’t stand him. He also really hated when he was left home alone, he would be howling and barking and was in an amazing state of heightened stress, so for the first 2 or so years we made sure either someone was dogsitting for him at our place or we took him to friends’ houses when we were both supposed to be somewhere at the same time. He’s also gotten over that since, and is now happy to be napping on his own, as long as we don’t even consider missing his meal times.
(observe the Charlie Chaplin-like front paws, pointing in opposite directions)
Very soon after he came to live with us it was discovered that he’s going completely blind, because of progressive retinal atrophy, a congenital disease that can’t really be stopped in dogs. He seems to be doing OK; usually he knows where stuff is in our apartment and can avoid hitting his head if he concentrates. It’s just so hard for him to concentrate when there’s food around. He’s been places since he’s been living with us, to the mountains and the seaside and many other places. He has a boat in our summer home, he’s actually had two but we replaced the first one partly because it wasn’t pleasant for Charlie to go on rides in it (tbh, it wasn’t particularly pleasant to anyone), he’s not a big fan of the sea and going to Korčula because it’s hot there and sometimes we make him swim and he would just rather be home on his couch.
(Charlie on Korčula, actually on Vrnik near Korčula, after a swim. Photo from 2012, when his eyes were clear and he had almost no grey hair.)
We believe he’s around 15 now, quite slow, not really into anything; he likes to sleep and cuddle with us and other people, he still enjoys eating although we have to be really careful what we can and can’t give him, he doesn’t particularly enjoy day-time walks, but night-time walks are OK. He likes scratching his back on the grass in our yard, and sometimes still enjoys listening to birds chirp (although lately his hearing is also not what it used to be). I know I’m probably not the right person to say this, but I think that he’s got probably the best life there is for an old cranky blind dog, so let’s just hope it lasts for as long as he’s comfortable 🙂
(I’m sure, if he could talk, he’d tell you that this is the way to live your life: on the couch!)