Blindness Temporarily Thwarted

Buffy, my one-eyed cocker spaniel, acted normal on Sunday morning, even asking me to throw her ball. But ten minutes later, she stood still with her head down. She stepped cautiously forward and bumped her nose into the bathroom door, then the wall, then the corner. She sniffed everything. I waved my hand in front of her face. She blinked once, likely feeling the air moving. But her eye showed no movement.

Buffy with one eye. Photo by Rachel Elizabeth Seed.

She was blind.

The veterinary ophthalmologist had warned me of this possibility since Buffy tested positive for a genetic predisposition for glaucoma.

Buffy ironically developed glaucoma in her right eye the day after her checkup, when her intraocular pressure changed from a normal level of 10 to 37 mm Hg several days later. A pressure above 35 mm Hg is thought to feel similar to a migraine headache. Buffy lost her vision in the right eye, but it was hard to tell since she could still see with her left eye. But for the entire weekend, she voluntarily stayed in her crate or hid in the corner, clearly not feeling well. The details of this post are here.

Human glaucoma medications also treat canine glaucoma, but the drugs have a short-term effect, sometimes lasting only a few weeks. Within four weeks, the pressure in Buffy’s blind right eye had risen to 30. With a long, out-of-town weekend planned for the Fourth of July, I was afraid Buffy would be in pain while I was gone, so I decided to get her eye removed. You can read about that here.

The ophthalmologist said Buffy would likely lose sight in her other eye (left) within 6 to 18 months. Buffy is only 8 ½ years old, so she likely would be blind for years.

I prepared as best I could.

  • I ordered Muffin’s Halo, which is a band in front of the dog’s head to guide the dog and protect her from bumping into things.

    Cocker with Milo's Halo

    Buffy wearing Muffin’s Halo

  • I used a harness, since there was some evidence that using a collar could raise ocular pressure when the dog pulled.
    • Buffy hated her harness, and she normally doesn’t pull since she often stays behind me. This causes the harness rides up on her back. I needed to buy one with a front clip. The vet said that a regular collar would not raise her intraocular pressure for long, so she didn’t need a harness.
  • I tried to reduce stress – although Buffy didn’t seem to have too much stress in her life.
    • But this is where I may have failed. The day before, I had taken Buffy to the Puppy Up Chicago walk where we met Sandra from Dolly the Doxie and Kristin from the Daily Pip.
      • Temperatures were in the upper 80s and there was little shade by the gathering, although the 2-mile walk was about 40% shaded.
      • The Puppy Up crowd was well prepared with frequent watering stations for dogs and people.
      • I had offered Buffy water several times and she drank some, but she’s not a big water drinker. After the walk, I waited in the shade for a few minutes, but then decided we were both too hot, so I left. The air-conditioned car took a few minutes to cool, but not too long. Buffy panted more heavily than I’d ever seen her and for at least 20 minutes, much longer than I expected given that the car cooled and she had a vent blowing on her. She had lost her Puppy Up bandana, which I hadn’t realized until I was several miles away in heavy traffic. Buffy finally cooled down and the rest of the day she seemed normal.

Could the heat from the exertion have caused her blindness less than 24 hours later?

I found Muffin’s Halo and placed it on Buffy. It gave her immediate confidence as cabinets and walls touched the halo portion and not her face. Stairs though were still a problem as she stumbled down one step to get out the back door onto our deck. I carried her down the remaining four steps to the backyard.

My husband came into the kitchen and suggested that I give Buffy the anti-glaucoma medication that he takes, Latanoprost. Buffy had taken this medication in her blind right eye back in June, but did not have a current prescription for it since that eye had been removed. Buffy was still taking Dorzolamide (anti-glaucoma) and NeoPolyDexamethasone (antibiotic/anti-inflammatory) in her remaining eye.

I didn’t go to an emergency vet, since there wasn’t much they could do and Buffy was not in pain. We had nothing to lose since she was already blind. So I put a drop of Latanoprost in her eye.

A half hour later, Buffy could see!

The Latanoprost must have reduced her eye pressure enough to restore her vision. The ophthalmologist had told me back in June, that vision could return if permanent damage had not occurred, but it would be temporary.

Today, Buffy is chasing her ball, looking out the window, and going for short walks.

Enjoying her vision while she can.

Please leave a comment if you have known a dog or a person with glaucoma.

Book Review: A Dog’s Way Home

By W. Bruce Cameron

I’ve always heard authors should not write using a dog’s point of view, but Bruce Cameron catches Bella’s thoughts perfectly in A Dog’s Way Home . He did so in his bestseller A Dog’s Purpose, and he did it again here – better in my opinion.A Dog's Way Home

The book jacket and the title suggest a version of The Incredible Journey (a 1960s novel and Disney film about three pets traveling hundreds of miles in search of their owners), but A Dog’s way Home is much different.

Lucas is a young man who finds a mixed breed puppy living underneath an abandoned house with many cats. Without his landlord’s permission, he decides to keep the puppy and names her Bella. She’s a very smart dog and learns such tricks as “No Barks” and “Go Home,” as Lucas tries to evade the landlord and the local dog-catcher, who decides Bella is a pit bull mix and illegal within the Denver city limits.

Bella develops the ability to sense when people are ill and in need of comfort. She can also notice the changes in a person prior to an epileptic seizure. With these traits, Lucas tries to use Bella as an emotional support dog at the VA hospital where he works and to evade the no dogs policy in his lease. As an uncertified dog, Bella receives minimal protection and the anti-pit bull dog-catcher are spying on her every move on public property.

As Lucas tries to find a place to live outside of Denver, he finds a temporary home for Bella to protect her from the Denver dog-catcher. At the temporary home, Bella bolts as the confused dog tries to find “her person,” Lucas. This begins Bella’s journey with multiple temporary owners and her relationship with Big Kitten, a cougar.

A Dog’s Way Home is an easy and compelling read. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Have you read any good dog books lately?

Blogpaws wordless WednesdayThis is a Wordless Wednesday blog hop. Please comment and read the other blogs.

My Senior Dog has more Energy than Last Year

Buffy & Chipper with Welly Tails Senior Dog Care product

Buffy (left) and Chipper (right) with their Senior Dog Care product.

Chipper, my twelve year-old cocker spaniel, has more energy when we go for walks than he did

this spring. He often leads the way as we walk around our neighborhood (as long as interesting scents don’t distract him), and he now chases squirrels—something he hasn’t done in years. Continue reading

Can Pets Prevent Suicide?

“Everyone thinks of committing suicide at some time,” my walking partner said as we settled into a steady pace for the 5K Wauk for Suicide Prevention and Awareness this past Saturday.  We had both known people who have attempted and some who had succeeded at committing suicide.

Cocker spaniel giving author a hug

Buffy giving me a hug.

Continue reading

When your Dog has the Runs—Should You Visit the Vet?

On Monday, I arrived home later than usual after work and found my husband scrubbing the carpet, a roll of paper towels lay on the floor and a scowl across his face. Buffy, my tan cocker spaniel had made a huge mess all over the living room rug. Diarrhea.

Buffy at the vet

Buffy sticking out her tongue at me at the vet’s office.

Continue reading

5 Ways to Prepare your Dog for a Pet-friendly Conference

You walk into the hotel with your dog by your side, feeling assured as you see other conference attendees with their pets. But your dog barks and lunges toward another dog, stretching his retractable leash to its full fifteen feet. In your scramble to hang onto the leash, your purse and conference materials scatter on the floor. You yank him hard, stopping him in his tracks as he trips. You yell, “Max come here NOW!” He cowers and everyone turns and stares at you.

Me and my two cocker spaniel at BlogPawss

From left to right: me, Buffy and Chipper at the BlogPaws conference

Continue reading

After You Scoop—Where Do You Drop the Poop?

Do you throw your dog’s waste in the nearest trash can? I actually plan my dog walks to go past several garbage cans so that I don’t have to carry the poop bag very far. Do you do this? Dogs going for a walk

Do you take your dog to parks where they provide bags so you don’t have to bring your own? Continue reading

Is Dog Poop Environmentally Friendly?

Do you pick up your dog’s poop using a plastic bag and then throw it in the trash?

Do you even pick up your dog’s poop?

When I was a kid, we didn’t pick up our dog’s poop. I’d take Chipper (the brown cocker I had Dog poopingback then) for a walk and nervously look around to see if anyone was watching while he pooped in someone’s yard. Continue reading