Jess Martin raised her beloved Border terrier, Toby, to become an extraordinary little man, performing tricks, skating and working as an accredited therapy dog. Then, Jess brought home a blind boxer puppy. Only to foster – of course. This is the story of how Toby adopted Amos
My journey into pet ownership was a fairly simple one – I wanted a dog from aged three. We were a busy family and couldn’t commit the time to a dog, so I didn’t have a dog growing up. Instead, I researched dogs, read all the dog books I could get my hands on, and if there was a film about dogs, I watched it. Just before my 18th birthday, I asked, if I could have a dog and my (very sensible and lovely) parents said, if I could show them that I could afford to look after and properly care for a dog, they would get me a dog for that birthday. And along came Toby.
Toby and I have been through so much together, he is the best friend I dreamed of when I was little, and he has been my little shadow ever since he arrived. We’ve had the best adventures and explored some amazing places together, he has helped me through tough times and has been the best therapy and motivation I could ask for.
I have always been adamant that Toby would be an only-dog – he has happily been on his own for eight years and has never been that interested in interacting with other dogs since he slipped a disc when he was younger. He has always remained active (lots of climbing and exploring) but has preferred to keep a distance from most other dogs.
Don’t get me wrong: he has his friends and he has plenty of playdates with his friends, but I didn’t think he would ever tolerate a dog living in his house long term.
Then there were two
And then came Amos, the unexpected ginger hurricane.
Amos was born at Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home, where I worked once a week while studying and never left. His mum came in as a pregnant stray, only eight months old herself – far too young to be having pups. Amos and one of his sisters were born blind, and out of eight pups in the litter, only three survived.
Of the three that survived, two were blind. The dogs home took them to see an eye specialist, who advised that, since their eyes caused them pressure and pain, it would be the kindest thing to remove both eyes when they puppies were a little older.
Amos was such a chilled-out puppy while at the dogs’ home – there was a tummy bug, so the pups weren’t able to be walked and missed out on their critical socialisation period, but that couldn’t be helped. The staff who work on the puppy unit were able to introduce them to the other dogs in this isolated unit.
We took Toby to meet Amos one Saturday afternoon to see if they would get on. There were a few growls from Toby and Amos learnt some boundaries. They had a second meeting the following day, and that evening we brought Amos home.
His first night in the house was interesting, to say the least: he’d never been in a house before, never experienced carpet, TV, the sound of a washing machine – and so many walls! He must have bashed his head about 100 times in that first evening, my partner, Billy, Toby and I were nervous wrecks by the time he was asleep.
Toby wasn’t best pleased with the arrival of the ginger hooligan, but as the days went on, we could see he was taking him under his wing. Amos didn’t drink for a day or so when he came to us: although we tapped the water bowl and swirled it around, he couldn’t find it. On the second day, Toby nudged him and made him follow him to the bowl, took a long drink as though to say: “Dude, it’s here – get a drink!!”
That was that Amos worked out where the bowl was.
Toby has repeated this behaviour a couple of times when we have taken Amos somewhere new. We took them both on holiday to Norfolk, and Toby had to show him to the water bowl. I have also hired a field so Amos can go off lead, and Toby again stepped up and showed him the way to the water bowl.
Little actions like that warm my heart and make me so proud of Toby for being such a caring little dog, who has accepted having his life turned upside down like a true star.
Learn something new every day
Life with a puppy is hard – we had forgotten that little aspect of pet ownership! We have days that are amazing and days that are not so good, Amos is a work in progress, because he missed so much socialisation, and coupled with the fact he can’t see, he is noise reactive and can get very nervous and stressed on walks.
Amos has learnt and experienced such a lot in the six months he has been with us, such as:
– Carrots are the only food he dislikes
– Toby is the best navigational tool a blind dog could ask for
– Car rides usually mean adventure
– Being a receptionist is fun (he accompanies me to the dogs’ home)
– Food is LIFE
– Sausages and pâté are the best
– His first holiday
– His first boat trip
– He’s been on a few mini-adventures and climbed a few mini-mountains (small hills –
but who are we to decide?)
– Bicycles are evil
– Prams are also evil
– Socks ALWAYS needs rescuing – take them from the humans and hide them, it’s for
their own safety
– Graduated Puppy School
– Passed his Bronze Kennel Club Good Citizen test
– Started Silver Kennel Club Good Citizen classes
– Eaten several beds
– Outgrown four harnesses
– Bird noises are freaky
– Toby is the greatest snuggle buddy – unless you squash him and then he just
– Toby is a pro wrestler
– It hurts when you run into the washing line
– It also hurts when you accidentally head-butt the humans.
Life with Amos is never dull – we are constantly learning, Toby has been such an easy dog, Amos is not, but he is gorgeous and such a character, and that more than makes up for his hooligan tendencies.
Following his double enucleation operation, he recovered amazingly well. I found it hard to cope with, but Billy, Toby and Amos were all brave and cheered me up when I had little cries about how he would cope after the operation, with the cone of shame, the stitches and the cleaning of the wounds.
He’s much happier and brighter following his operation, so he must have been in some pain prior to having his eyes removed. He doesn’t let his lack of eyes hold him back – and why should we? He’ll be following in Toby’s footsteps and becoming an Exploring Wonderdog too!
Amos gets plenty of funny looks when we are out and about, maybe because he’s a bull breed, maybe because he’s a bull breed with no eyes, maybe it’s because he and Toby make one of the most handsome duos around.
I’m learning to not let it bother me when people stare at him, Toby is learning to dodge the giant puppy head-butting on walks and to be a caring big brother, and Amos is learning everything he possibly can!
Follow Jess, Toby and Amos on Instagram @jessyyandthewonderdogs