In our experience informing a pet owner that their pet is blind or is going blind can be quite a daunting task. It's an overwhelming experience for most pet owners and a time often filled with emotion and doubt. That's why we have asked Sue, the owner of a blind Whippet named Pebbles, to tell her story. We hope her insight into a moment of darkness and her handy hints in dealing with day to day activities will provide you with some hope.
I'll never forget the day. We had just finished eating lunch and were relaxing, sitting in front of the television watching a Saturday afternoon game of football. I was seated in my favourite black armchair next to the glass sliding door that led out to our patio. Pebbles our three year old Whippet was snooping around looking for post lunch treats. A routine activity we were all accustomed to after every meal and of course she was always rewarded for her effort. But on this occasion instead of a wet happy nose on my leg, I heard a thump! Pebbles had walked straight into the glass sliding door. My partner looked at me, I looked back at him with a look of confusion and concern.
What just happened? Pebbles had been in and out of the same door a million times before. I called Pebbles by name and she slowly wandered up to me, bumping into the coffee table leg in her travels. We knew immediately something was wrong. It was if her world had turned to darkness - like someone had literally turned the lights out. The first thing we did, was our amateur version of an eye test. The test we had seen our vet conduct on previous occasions. Drawing one finger to her eye to check if she would blink - she didn't, no reaction. My heart sank and panic set in - 'what's wrong, what's happening - surely not'.
For Pebbles her new world of blindness was something that happened over night. Of course as a concerned pet owner, she was shipped off to her veterinarian who referred us onto a veterinary eye specialist. I was determined someone would have a solution and miraculously her eyesight would be restored. In fact, I was so convinced that a miracle cure existed that I even sought two expert opinions. Unfortunately this was not to be the case.
Pebbles had something called progressive retinal atrophy, a condition she was predisposed to from birth. More than likely she had been losing her eyesight over a period of time and had been coping up until now.
The first eye specialist basically gave us a few limited options and also discussed the 'E' word. To this day just thinking about it still makes my heart crumble. A visit to the second pet eye specialist reassured me that euthanasia was not necessary for a perfectly healthy dog and that she could lead a very normal life with a little extra help. Of course I was relieved to hear this. Pebbles was always at my side and undoubtedly my best friend. I couldn't bear to be without her and at 3 years of age I knew she had plenty of life to live.
So very quickly we adapted to our new life as owners of a blind dog. Let's say there was never a dull moment and whilst I could list many injuries, for not one moment do I ever regret standing by her side. Our relationship was stronger than any other, if not more. Her trust in me as her guide and her protector was without question.
Any owner contemplating a life with a blind dog should be reassured, the bond you will form with your companion and your journey together will be amazing.
With this in mind, here are some of the things I personally suggest to help you make life a little easier:-
There are many resources for owners of blind dogs which provide a myriad of hints and tips to protect your pet. The above tips are some of my favourite personal tips learned from experience and which made a big difference to our lives and the quality of Pebbles' life.
Over the years, people who met Pebbles were unable to tell she was blind which demonstrated her amazing ability to cope. She was a true inspiration to me and touched the hearts of many others. She lived a wonderful life with many adventures by my side. Pebbles left the world at the grand old age of 11 years, a result of a non related medical problem. I miss her dearly and encourage any pet owner who is learning to cope with a blind companion to persist. The journey will be worth it.
Sue mentioned some very helpful tips for blind pets and here's a few more we can suggest:-
If you have a blind pet and a great tip for other pet owners, drop us a line on our contact us form and we'll add it to our list.