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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Our Amazing Black Dog - Nothing Slows Him Down

Recently, I noticed that when I photographed R in the sunlight, his eyes glowed green, as if I'd used a flash. But I hadn't. That was my first clue that something was not normal with his eyes.
Then, a few days ago, I was doing his PT exercises with him in dim light. I noticed that he repeatedly missed my hand as he reached for treats that I was giving him.

That caused me to panic about his eyesight. Our regular vet saw him on Monday, and she started him on meds to take down the inflammation and the pressure inside his eyes. She prepared us for bad news - saying that she suspected that he had glaucoma.

Fast forward to yesterday - we got an emergency appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist. He confirmed what our vet had suspected. His tests showed R to already be mostly blind in his left eye. Perhaps you can see in the photo above that his left eye looked worst.

Moreover, the tests showed that he has glaucoma in his right eye but it hasn't progressed so far yet. Thankfully, R can still see with his right eye.

His glaucoma is due to a genetic defect in the system for draining fluid from inside his eyes. This progression toward blindness was inevitable, set into motion on the very day that R was born. Sadly, this disease can't be seen until it has become very bad.

We have quite a journey ahead of us. R will join Shyla in needing multiple meds throughout every single day. We don't mind at all because these meds might help him a lot. The hopes are: 1) that we can slow the progression of the glaucoma in his right ("good") eye, thereby delaying the onset of total blindness, and 2) that we can keep the intraocular pressure from getting so high in either eye that he needs his eye(s) removed. The left eye's vision cannot be saved - it will remain blind - but he might keep the eye if we can control that pressure.

R does not seem to be in pain. Controlling the pressure inside his eyes is the key to preventing pain.

I have sat here staring at my computer screen for a long time, trying to figure out how to articulate how we feel. I always go through phases in coping with this type of news but I already know what our life will look like as we move forward.

We will follow R's lead. He isn't upset, depressed, or angry. He's still the happy-go-lucky dog who we've always loved. The vet put no constraints on what he's allowed to do. The vet's only caution was about dealing with dark areas where lack of visual depth of field might make R stumble and get hurt.

So, we'll keep on doing the stuff that he loves. In fact, just last week, we visited one of our dogs' favorite lakes. R took flying leaps into the water like SuperDog!

And he fetched tennis balls from the water.

He sprinted through the water, splashing around like the puppy that he is, at heart.

We all had a wonderful time, including his sister.
We plan to back there soon again, maybe even tomorrow. There's no point in wasting these good days with our amazing Labraduo. So, we feel sadness about what R will face but we will live each day as joyfully as we can. He's a happy dog who wants nothing more than to have lots of fun. And so he will.


  1. hugs to you.. we hope for many days with joy and a smile... we send lots of potp to you and to the happy labraduo...

  2. I am so sad for all of you, the blindness will effect every member of the family. I am so glad he will be able to continue in the water and doing what he loves to do.. we are dealing with Jake's blindness and it is difficult to adjust. he breaks my heart when he goes to the water bowl and taps the undeside of his chin on the bowl to find it, them taps until he feels water, dips his head and drinks. he can see light and shadows and if we wave our hand he knows it, added to the mix is his hearing is almost gone, we have to pop our hands loudly to get his attention... prayers and hugs for your beautiful black boy

  3. I forgot to mention the bruises on my toes, I go barefoot, and he walks on them and doesn't know it.

  4. I have had two dogs go blind on me and they coped better than I did. I had to make some adjustments. With one of them when he stepped off a curb he would start feeling ahead with his foot to find the step up. This would be hard on me but I think he just figured out how things were.

  5. R is blessed to have such a loving family. I had a friend rescue a blind pup once and with special training Stevie is living an amazing life. I feel confident R will adjust.

  6. Our Scottie is blind due to diabetes. There are times it breaks my heart to watch him, but he doesn't seem to know he can't see. He walks behind us and bumps our calves to make sure he is going in the right direction :) We walk down the patio stairs with him so he doesn't take a tumble, but he knows his backyard and can find his way around by himself. You will find your way around it and all will be well!

  7. There is no doubt about it, your love will help R get through this challenge and deal with it.

  8. So sorry to hear that. I could be wrong, but perhaps Black Dog is not "aware" of his blindness if the progression was slow and he can still see out of his right eye. One thing for certain...he's lucky to have you as his "pet person." We should be so lucky :)
    Box Canyon Mark

  9. Not the news I'd hoped for - I'm so sorry :( Having fostered a blind puppy, and having recently lost my old setter who was deaf and blind for several years, I know R will just go about his business hardly missing a step - but it is hard on US. R is just is one of those dogs who, unfortunately, seems destined to face numerous physical challenges throughout his life; that goodness he found a family who is so willing and able to help him through them! Carpe diem...

  10. I'm sad to read this news, but hope his vision can be saved in his good eye. His old is he now?

    1. R will be 11 next month. Most people who meet him think that he's a very young dog... and they think that Shyla is elderly (she's 6yo). R definitely has the spirit to keep on having fun despite this.

  11. R is a lucky boy to have you by his side. We hope the meds help to keep what vision he has in his good eye.

  12. He is a trooper and always has overcome obstacles.
    We are sad but realize he will find a way to cope
    with your guidance, dedication and love.
    We got leaky eyes here, will send out
    into the spinning stars through the galaxy POTP
    We ♥ R too!
    xo Astro Mitzie and Linda

  13. I am so relieved that it is at least not all bad news; that there are treatments available and it's not too late to at least slow this down. I'm sure you'll have some challenging times ahead, but if you continue to follow R's lead that will make things easiest for you. Big hugs to all of you! ♥
    Jan & the crew at Wag 'n Woof Pets

  14. Yesterday, as we looked at yet another home, there was a blind dog there. He listened,walked confidently, and was so happy. R will cope with this, and maybe it will be harder for you and Runner to adjust to R's loss.He looks so happy, and is with the best family .Make the most of those days when the water is still warm enough for that fantastic leap in.

  15. It's hard for us as the humans, but dogs don't care. A friend of ours had a dog who had to have a front leg amputated. He was up walking like nothing happened in no time. He runs, plays in the snow, does everything he used to do. R's body will cope with the sight loss, you will be there to keep him from danger. We hope the progression slows and he has one eye to work with for as long as possible. Shyla may also realize and become his guide dog all on her own.

  16. I hear you 100% on the meds we went through that when we found out Madi needed all the meds and SUBqs daily.
    She was a cat who sat with/on you on her own terms and it was rare. Did not like to be held. We thought how in the world will we keep her still long enough for 100ml of subqs?!! She was so good about the fluids. Then we took it one day at a time and as you said here, substituting R for M "We will follow R's lead. (s)He isn't upset, depressed, or angry. "
    Pilling her was the worst...I finally figured crushing it in her food was the best...she was food driven.
    QUALITY of life and being happy is the key.
    They know we are helping them...
    Hugs and here for sound board should you need one.

  17. We are sorry your diagnosis was confirmed. But as you say, meds can do a lot to control the glaucoma. And if it doesn't, we can attest to dogs coping very well with eye removal. We had a black cockapoo who lost both of his eyes due to severe glaucoma, about six months apart. Lucky did very well as a sightless dog because he was older and know his environment so very well. Let's hope that R doesn't get to that point, but if he does, we bet he does very well too. Hugs.

  18. Dear KB, I love it that you are doing your best to preserve R’s vision in his right eye, making adjustments when need be and having his attitude. Your dogs are blessed to have you and the runner as their beloved caregivers and parents. We all need to take lessons from our beloved companions on how to adjust to difficulties!

  19. R is a great dog and with your love we are sure he can defeat anything

  20. A million magic bubbles will be sent for R !!! Healing magic bubbles!
    Keep on letting R do what he wants to do.,,, he knows what is best fro him!

  21. I echo the other commenters who have had blind dogs. Our dear departed Pica overnight lost the vision in one eye from a detached retina, and several months later the other one detached with no warning. She had no problem navigating with one working eye, and very little problem navigating with zero working eyes. As our ophthalmologist said, "As far as she knows, one day the sun just didn't rise. But the world didn't end." We continued backpacking and hiking with her for three more wonderful years. (A few new cues were very helpful: "This way", "step up", "step down").

    That being said, here's hoping the meds will preserve sight in R's right eye as long as possible, and keep the intraocular pressure manageable. As you say, it's more of an adjustment for you than for R. He's still your bumptious R!

    Best wishes on this new stage of the journey!
    Chris from Boise

  22. Paws crossed thay the meds help keep things in control. Dogs are amazing in how they can adapt, with your love and care R will do fine
    Hazel & Mabel

  23. Oh noes. Well, i sure was hoping for some better news, butts it sounds like with the meds you might be able to slow it down so he can keep the sight in the right eye. I gots my paws crossed for you R! I do knows that lots of doggies adapt very well to losing their sight, and since you have trained him so well, I am sure you will guide him to adjust. Sendin' {{hugs}} and lots of AireZens
    Ruby ♥

  24. We learn so much from our pets when it comes to handicaps. They take whatever life hands them with joy every single moment. Here's to many more fun times watching your boy swim and dive and retrieve.

  25. So sorry the glaucoma was confirmed. I hope you can manage his pain and pressure with the meds for awhile. Our vet said the same thing, that Tino's eyesight probably faded slowly and he didn't notice. This will give you some time to adjust. One thing I don't think I ever wrote about but was a real lifesaver was I taught Tino to follow a finger snap or clap. If he got to far away from me on a walk and lost his bearings, I could call him and then just clap or snap and he would follow that sound. Helpful in all sorts of situations - especially when he got older and more frail. Best of luck. You will be surprised how unfazed he is I bet.

  26. We have our paws crossed that the meds help R keep the vision he has left.

  27. As others have said, I think this will be hard on you but R will take it in stride in ways that will both amaze you and squeeze your heart. I do hope the medication will keep him comfortable - thank goodness there IS medication for that! And how lucky he is that you noticed it now, when there is a chance to retain some vision.

  28. Desperately hoping the medications can keep the pressure low enough to prevent blindness in the other eye. You have shown such talent and perseverance in rehab for both your labs I know you will work as hard for R and his reduced vision.

  29. I don't know what I can add that others have not already said. I'd hoped that when you saw the specialist, it would be better news for your boy. But I'm grateful for the expertise of the specialist to help and provide the needed treatment and medications for R, that I know aren't cheap (we saved by getting ours at Costco). I'm sure I don't have to say how I care about Shyla and R, and I know they are getting the best of care, from the very best of owners, and from me, they're getting lots of good vibes, with a few extra for R and you! Take care!!!


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