September 3, 2010

Rachel's Blindness

Here you can literally see the iridescence in
her eyes from the disease.
Our dog Rachel has been slowly going blind in the last couple of years. It started when she was about six, and I took her to see a vet eye specialist who advised that her condition is something that old dogs get. Despite following his advice, her eyesight has continued to deteriorate at a faster rate than we had anticipated. 

Rachel has always been nervous around bigger dogs, and now she is so terrified that we cannot even take her to the dog park for a run because she is simply too frightened and shakes for ages, even when I hold her up off the ground.

It's interesting though to see how she is coping with her blindness. We've noticed during the past twelve months that she has started using her nose as a kind of cane like blind people use. We try not to move furniture and other items out of their place, so most of the time she can quite confidently walk around, but unfortunately she still manages to bump into walls. So her nose is coming in handy more often. She will use it to find where things are, including us, her human family. We know when she's near because we feel her wet little nose touch our leg. Sometimes she will sit down next to me when I'm at the computer and reach across with her nose every now and then as if to make sure I'm still there.

She's now taken her nose-cane to another stage, and often walks with her nose close to the ground so she can feel the floor now as well.

An interesting thing that I noticed recently is that when a door needs to be opened, she looks up towards where the doorknob is as if anticipating what's happening next.

One of the sad things is that when we go to pick her up sometimes she growls, because she gets frightened and doesn't know what's going on. It's kind of like a defence mechanism, as if she's saying, "I can still bite you know, so be careful."

I'm hoping that this condition won't develop into the next stage which usually results in the eyes having to be removed. We are concerned about Rachel's long-term condition because we simply don't know if she's going to cope well, though for the present she's doing okay.

She's the most cuddly, loving little doggy, and we love her to pieces.

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