The photo is Tika at 10, Still hale and hearty but totally blind and with the grandchildren.
When she was two and our first grandchild was near two they played together in town when Joan was looking after them both. Two two year olds at play and Joan wrote a book of poetry about it that intimated the shepherding nature of Tika that was present even then, that indicated that Hannah was her charge to be cared for and protected.
We cottaged on Lotus Island regularly and the pianist changed the furniture in the living room one day and brought in a large organ. When Tika came into the house from town she ran smack dab into the side of the organ that had hitherto been an empty space. Then when we were walking down the roadway to the beach and called her to come, 50 pounds of dog ran down the hill and didn't stop and hit my knee. I couldn't walk. She couldn't see me in time to stop. I had surgery and was off for a couple of weeks
The vet Claus Andress referred us to the animal ophthalmologist who told us that she was blind. She had severe retinal atrophy. What we didn't want to hear finally started to make sense. One night in town when we were sleeping I heard a sound like a child crying and calling near our swimming pool. I got up and went to the pool deck and she was crying and swimming in the pool and couldn't get out . I jumped in the shallow end and lifted her out. A Samoyed coat in water is like blotting paper. She was heavy. The then tendency to put it down to slip and fall was in error obviously.
And other clues were ignored. I was often blamed for moisture on the toilet seat but when she probably had her water dish relocated the toilet never moved and her hairy muzzle dripped a bit on the seat since she didn't know to lift it. When the neighbors Roland and Mimi excavated a pit for a basement extension she failed to notice the hole and fell in and called for help.
As her condition got worse I observed what I thought was very neurotic tendencies on her part. Out side on the property she wandered into every single area, sniffing, nose down, almost following a pattern. She seemed enormously preoccupied. It came to me that she was mapping our acreage and Roland's property which flowed into it. There were no fences and she knew nothing about survey stakes. She was using her nose and the pulp of her feet to map the territory.
She avoided the beach because a blind dog can't protect herself and her lesson came one day when a rough dog chased her down the beach and she couldn't see where she was going. I came down at the noise and yelled at the dog and it ran away. It was just somewhere she couldn't mark.
She loved the cottage and her territory. When we left town for the island she knew where we were going. On the highway on the island as we approached the road to the turn off I would always feel a soft muzzle on my right shoulder and with the turnoff the muzzle would nod in pleasure. Her highlight was when our grand children came.
We buried her ashes in a beautiful bowl Joan had made for her beside three Douglas Firs notched into the deck she always lay on. She was 12 years old and most of them blind. but she was failing in the end. When we took her to Claus Andress for passage he weeped with us. She was a brave and resourcful loving little dog.