From the day she arrived we thought that Salma’s eyesight was not too good. This perception has been confirmed as time has passed. She sees movement, even at a distance, but static objects present a problem and she may bump into things.

How can this be? All our previous beardies have had excellent eyesight and through their fringes could see all they needed to see and more. We had always been warned that it was not good to tie back the beardie fringe because then too much light got into their eyes which could be damaged. Is this what happened to Salma? Possibly.

She is perfectly able to negotiate her world, but there is a certain degree of uncertainty and insecurity which means that she is sometimes reluctant to do certain things. It also means that sometimes she may make decisions which might turn out to be hazardous. When on walks, if she comes upon a puddle or any other similar obstacle which she probably just sees as a dark hole, she may leap across it so we have to keep an eye on her to make sure that she does not make the wrong decision if the obstacle is too large. She is still a beardie full of energy and verve and she loves to jump.

I feel it is best to make provision for the future by giving her the chance to learn a range of verbal and sound cues which should help her particularly in the event that her eyesight should deteriorate with age.

We are spending time with all the normal cues such as “sit”, “come” etc. With “come” we also pat the side of our legs so she has a stronger spatial indicator. We have also introduced a whistle for longer range communication. We are working on “Stay” but she has already caught on to “Wait”. She has also learned “Stay close”. That was easy because her herding instinct makes her want to check up on everyone so she naturally comes back, and I have just used her natural instinct as a prop for her to teach herself making the connection between her natural behaviour and the cue being offered.

Another useful cue is “Through”. This helps her to know when it is safe to go through doors or other narrow passageways. We are also extending it as a game going through a hoop, which she did this morning for the first time. We may gradually be able to turn the hoop into a tunnel, but only if she finds it satisfying as an activity.

This uncertainty may be one reason why she is reluctant to step on the ramp to get up on higher surfaces. She prefers to jump up. In time I hope that she will accept the ramp which in old age is always a useful aid. Now she is young so that is not an issue but …

Of course, she makes good use of her olfactory sense to make up for sight deficiency and thoroughly enjoys scent games and finding treats.