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Fiat Lux

This is about the need for some kind of night lighting so you don't trip over or step on your dog when you get up in middle of night. Whether it's a bedside lamp or a plug-in 7 watt night light or a flashlight kept next to your bed, it's really good to be able to see where you are going and to be able to see that black or dark colored dog easily. You don't want to hurt your dog or yourself.

(later) I should add a section about the dog possibly needing some night lighiting.

("Fiat Lux" means "let there be light". It's the motto of University of California (my alma mater), meaning that the role of the university is to enlighten, ie to discover knowledge and to spread knowledge.)


Fiat Lux (let there be light)

by Pam Green, © 2020

night lighting for the human

to avoid tripping on your dog

Many years ago my eighth rescue Bouvier was a "fawn" or "buff" color (somewhat gold color) Bouvier bitch whom I named "Heloise" or "Halo". The adopter who applied for her was a middle aged woman whose previous (deceased) dog was a Giant Schnauzer. When she saw Heloise, she remarked that she was really glad to have a lighter colored dog because it would be easier to see the dog when she got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Her Giant , being black, had been hard to see. I responded that this by itself should not be a determining factor, which should be how much she liked the dog's personality and behavior traits. That a flashlight by the bed could make it easy enough to see even the blackest dog lying on the floor. This adoption did go through and they were happy enough together.

I normally do leave my reading light on at night, for reasons other than dog detection. But there's always at least one dog sharing my bed and usually several on the floor. I've joked that I will never be murdered in my own bed because any invader would trip over the dogs and break his neck. Even so, on one or two occassions I have swung my feet out of bed towards the floor and collided with a dog. Easy to make mistakes when you are still really asleep but have urgent need to pee. And while you are gone, the dogs may have moved into your spot, so you need to be able to look and see before getting back into bed.

Tripping over dog toys, especially ones that can roll under your foot, can also be an issue. My house is full of them.

And if you have a young puppy, not yet fully house-broken, or an elderly dog who has incontinence issues, I hardly need to advise you to watch where you step -- and not to go barefoot.

dogs moving into bed space vacated by human who leaves to go to the bathroom

I keep a couple of flashlights by my bed, just in case the reading light has gone out. And there's a kiddies' night light, one of those little 4 watt or 7 watt bulb ones or the LED ones, in the bathroom. Some Bouvs like to sleep in the bathroom, sometimes next to the "throne", probably because it is cooler than the bedroom floor.

In our rural area, sometimes the electricity goes out. Surprising how hard it can be to get around in total darkness, Especially if you fail to grab that flashlight, as I did once upon a midnight dark, resulting in getting lost in my own bathroom. (This actually occurred just past midnight at the start of my birthday. I wondered if this was some kind of omen for me.)

I urge everyone to keep a flashlight where they can reach it before getting out of bed. What other lighting you might need is up to you.

Do look before you drop your feet to the floor and as you walk around. Do look before you drop your body back onto the bed.

I have a really sad story about this :

This was a deaf Bouvier whose owner I had helped (coached by phone and e-mail) through the issues of training with gestural cues rather than voice cues. I'd helped her through issues of the dog lifting his leg indoors. He'd become a very well behaved dog, a dog she said she loved and enjoyed. (Incidentally she'd sent me a few gifts in appreciation.) Then one day out of the blue, I got an e-mail that a few nights ago she had gotten up to go to the bathroom, then returned to bed and flung herself back into her space. But the dog had moved into her space, his head on her pillow. He didn't hear her coming (he's deaf, remember) and she didn't look before she dropped herself on top of him. He bit her. From his point of view, something attacked him while he was asleep and he defended himself. Most dogs will do that. A day or two later she took him to the vet and had him killed. Yes, she murdered a poor innocent dog who trusted her to take care of him. (And I told her so in just those words. I'm still filled with sorrow for that dog and anger at his totally undeserved death.)

So it's really important to be able to see where you are going and to think before you act. It's for your dog's safety as well as for your own safety.

And think about what the dog's point of view is likely to be.

if your vision is getting worse

As we age, our vision can deteriorate. Maybe you now need glasses or a different prescription. But if you are over 60, you might be developing cataracts. If you are over 70, cataracts are really common. Cataract surgery (if you need it) is one of the greatest life-style improvements available. I had mine over a year ago.

So it might be time for a visit to the optometrist and/or opthamologist. Especially if it's been a few years since your last eye exam.

A few night lights around the house and a flashlight by your bed can be helpful, even if (horrors !) you don't have a dog.

night lighting for your dog

While dogs usually have better night vision than people, their vision is especially good for detecting motion. So as your dog ages, you might notice some possible problems, the dog seeming to navigate less well, especially if the obstacle course in your home has changed. Some older dogs do seem to have diminished night vision, and for those dogs some extra night lighting may make a difference. Worth a try.

(Of course extra light won't help a totally blind dog. In that case , scent marking dangerous areas with menthol or citronella (scents dogs tend to avoid) can help. Mark the dog door and other places your dog needs to find with a different scent, perhaps lavender (soothing). But the dog door won't re-locate and you can keep dog beds, water bowls, etc in consistant locations.)

Dogs are subject to many different eye diseases, some genetic and some acquired. Some of these can be painful, but the dog may not show pain in a way you can recognize.

One of my dogs, Annie, got glaucoma (one of the genetic risks for Bouviers), but her pain was not obvious to me (partly because Bouvs tend to be stoic, not show pain, but also because the type of pain for this disease is not usually obvious to even a very solicitous guardian). I only recognized that one eye had a problem when I saw that the "whites" were very bloodshot. Caught a photo showing that and e-mailed it to my favorite veterinary ophamologist, who got her into examination the next day, diagnosed glaucoma that day, got her into surgery day after. Her quality of life was noticably improved after this.

There ARE indeed veterinary opthamologists. (Indeed for just about every human medical specialty , there are equivalent veterinary specialists.) You may have to go to your regional vet school to find one.

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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
Pam's e-mail address has changed tips on site use
created 10/16/2020 revised 10/18/2020
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