Blind B.C. dog overcomes adversity through doggy dock diving

Ever since he was a puppy, Gryffin has seemed shy.

“He’s quiet,” Angela says about her white Labrador. “He’s quite reserved.”

But there were moments when Gryffin would reveal a different aspect of himself, like when he’d relish rolling in the mud (see the picture of her holding the pup, who appears more black than white) or help Angela with the Halloween decorations (see the video where she tells the dog she “needs a hand” and he brings her a fake severed arm).

“When you see those little sparks of energy, you know it’s something special,” Angela smiles.

But Angela also knew something was wrong when Gryffin started struggling to walk by her side.

“He was drifting away,” Angela recalls. “He wouldn’t even have a clue that he wasn’t beside me.”

After visiting a specialist, Gryffin was diagnosed with progressive retinal atrophy. About three months later, the dog was completely blind.

“I was crushed,” Angela says. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster to sort out your new normal.”

There’s video of Gryffin sitting at a table surrounded by his canine friends at a birthday party Angela threw for him, waiting patiently for permission to eat his cake. When Angela finally says Gryffin can take a bite, his brother (who can see) steals the slice from under him.

“I instantly gave him another piece,” Angela says. “I felt so bad for him.”

Angela went searching for something fun for Gryffin to do, but she couldn’t help wonder if attempting doggy dock diving — a sport gaining popularity across the country — would be a bust too.

Gryffin couldn’t watch how the other dogs at the Pooch Pool School effortlessly raced down a long dock and — before it ran out — launched themselves into a large pool towards a toy they could see in the water.

“At first, he was really confused,” Angela says. “And rightly so.”

But Gryffin could hear a beeping sound coming from a portable, waterproof speaker that Angela wrapped in floating foam.

She threw it off the dock, and with a little encouragement, Gryffin achieved a big success. He jumped in the pool and retrieved the speaker.

“It’s hard to keep him out of there now,” Angela smiles.

After dock diving a couple times now, Angela says Griffin is becoming more confident and she’s learning to never give up hope.

“He’s definitely made me a fierce advocate for him,” Angela says.

Although a pool may seem like it would extinguish “a little spark,” you just might find it ignites an inferno, instead: one of water-splashing and tail-wagging joy.

“It’s a chance (for Gryffin) to have fun,” Angela smiles. “And totally let his wild side show.”