Living in the Midwest, allergies are quite common. We were not at all surprised when our long-haired Chihuahua, Theo, was diagnosed with an allergy issue. I had noticed that his left eye had become red and watery. A lovely yellow discharge was also emanating from the corner of his eye.
Our vet prescribed eye drops and an oral medication. Thankfully, his symptoms decreased. His eye was back to normal in about a week.
The following year around the beginning of March, Theo’s eye began to bother him again. I quickly made an appointment with his vet expecting more eye drops and pills. What happened next would change Theo’s life forever.
When our vet looked at Theo’s eye, she was less than pleased. She grabbed what looked like a tiny suitcase and pulled forth a device reminiscent of a thermometer. Immediately, she touched the device directly on Theo’s eyeball. I had to turn away.
The device actually measures the pressure in an animal’s eyes. She shook her head and began talking about how dangerously high the pressure was. Her diagnosis? Theo had glaucoma.
According to http://www.webmd.com, “Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. This nerve carries information from the eye to the brain. When the nerve is damaged, you can lose your vision.” Theo was now blind in his left eye.
I soon learned from my vet that there is only a 24 hour window from the onset of glaucoma in which the vision on the affected eye can be saved. Since we thought Theo’s allergies were kicking up again, we missed the window by an additional 24 hours. Our vet’s next concern was Theo’s right eye. She stated that if the pressure in the left eye continued to rise, it could affect his right eye as well. Her recommendation was to remove Theo’s left eye.
I felt as if my whole world was crashing down around me. I had no problem with owning a one-eyed dog. We already own a one-eyed cat, three-legged dog and a dog born without eyes who is also completely deaf. What concerned me most is the fact that Theo is 13 years old. I know that anesthesia can be hard on an animal at any age, but I know that it can be especially deadly to elderly animals.
When I questioned my vet about Theo’s age and the possible surgery, she became cold and indifferent. I was basically told that death is always a possible outcome. (Don’t worry, we have since changed veterinarians.) Luckily, I knew of an animal ophthalmologist in St. Louis, Missouri. Adriel, has the option of having a free eye exam every year since she is a part of the Therapy Dog program through Therapy Dogs International (T.D.I.). I had taken her several times and absolutely love the doctor and office staff. I immediately requested a referral.
I made sure to bring all of the medications that Theo was currently taking to his appointment. The doctor was phenomenal. He listened to everything that I had to say. I stated that my vet was adamant about having Theo’s left eye removed. He examined Theo’s eye thoroughly and then looked at the assorted medications I had brought.
The doctor soon explained that Theo only needed one of the four eye drops that we had been giving him daily. In fact, one of the drops could actually make his condition worse! He then said that there was no need to remove Theo’s eye unless he was in pain. I assured him that Theo was not acting like a dog in pain. He was eating and playing like normal. Feeling relieved, I snuggled Theo the entire ride home.
Over the course of two weeks, we noticed a definite change in Theo’s attitude. He had become more grumpy towards his furry siblings. If they happened to brush against him on his blind side, he would immediately snap at them. His fierce growl served as enough of a deterrent…to everyone but Hope.
Hope is our double dapple Dachshund that was born without eyes and is completely deaf. Theo took out most of his fearful aggression on her. There were several near fights and one instance in which Hope actually pinned Theo down when he instigated a tussle. We were forced to leave him in our bedroom with the door closed to prevent any future fights.
Theo had also begun to get underfoot, tripping me and my husband daily. We started stomping our feet in hopes that he would hear us coming. Most of the time, Theo just stood as still as a statue and waited for us to step over him.
My heart was breaking as I watched his spirit deteriorate. I had wanted him to live a happy, vibrant life. Not the life of an unhappy hermit like the Lorax. That is when I remembered reading about Muffin’s Halo for Blind Dogs.
Silvie Bordeaux created Muffin’s Halo when her 13 1/2 year old toy poodle, Muffin, went blind due to cataracts. The halo consists of a harness that is secured around the dog’s neck and stomach. The wings are then attached to the harness directly behind the dog’s head. Finally, the halo is secured with Velcro onto the wings.
There are numerous styles and colors to choose from. I chose the grey wings that say “BLIND DOG” to alert others to Theo’s condition. The halo extends outward away from the dog’s face, thus creating a “bumper bar.” This prevents the dog from bumping directly into walls, furniture and other obstacles that he/she may encounter on a daily basis.
I was very surprised at how easy the halo was to put together. Theo was wearing his halo in five minutes. At first, he seemed a bit apprehensive. He did not want to walk at all. But once I began to slowly walk around the room, he soon followed suit.
After wearing the halo for just one day, we saw an immediate difference in his behavior. Theo appeared to be more confident when he walked. He actually wanted to get out of his pet bed and walk around the house. He was no longer grumpy and did not growl at his furry siblings.
We are so thankful for Muffin’s Halo for Blind Dogs! Theo’s spirit seems to be re-energized. He is no longer fearful and depressed. The spring in his step has returned along with the smile on his face. I highly recommend Muffin’s Halo for Blind Dogs to anyone who has a dog suffering from sight issues. Be on the lookout for Muffin’s Halo for Blind Cats as well as Blind Farm Animals coming soon!
To learn more about Muffin’s Halo for Blind Dogs, please visit: muffinshalo.com.