A few weeks ago we became aware that our dog, Sophie, was having some difficulty.

I had noticed that she was drinking a lot of water and asked Stephen to help me keep the dog bowls full. It was hot and I didn’t think too much of it. Then she stopped eating much, and again I noticed but thought, hey its hot.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I noticed Sophie begin to run into things. She was having trouble dodging the end tables and began using the stairs with difficulty.

When your 10-year-old dog goes blind it is heartbreaking, especially when it turns out all those things you had noticed, excessive thirst, weight loss, excessive urination, etc. are the signs of diabetes in dogs.

Too late we got her to the vet. Too late for her eyes, not for the rest of her life.

With the diabetes diagnosis we started another phase of our lives; being the caregivers to an old, blind golden retriever. Regulating her diet became a priority as well as the insulin shots every 12 hours. At 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. we are there. Making sure we leave a party or dinner with friends early — our Sophie needs us.

We’ve lost a few dogs over the years. Good dogs that added joy to our kids’ lives and added depth to the family. Making the choice to add a pet to your family is one that takes responsibility and determination. Making sure all that needs to be done is and all that should be done gets done. Policing the yard, check. Buying the right food, check. Getting all that heavy hair shaved in the hot days of summer, check. Being aware when your dog’s health is failing, I’m working on that.

Growing up with animals around was normal and seemed a part of life. I grieve when we lose a good friend, and take the time I need before finding another family member. Grieving for one’s dog seems normal. Like I grieve about lost opportunities or lost time. Normal. But I don’t want to live without a dog.

As empty nesters we had long given up worrying about where the kids were. We now worry about what our grandchildren are doing without us in their everyday lives. Another phase to live through.

Sophie is enduring with dignity. I had been assured that she would adapt, and she has. We went on our first walk at South Park just this weekend. The first walk with a blind dog that is.

She did well and as her tail wagged at being back to the smells and feel of the trail I knew that we had some good years left with our dog Sophie. As she left her mark along the walk we laughed; she had been gone for a while but now she was back and broadcasting.

Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.