Dogster member Bill sent me an article about Virginia, she’s an older dog who recently went blind. Since there are a lot of Dogsters who have senior dogs, like us, and worry about this issue I thought the article would be of interest.
It goes to show that just because a dog goes blind it doesn’t mean they’re out of the game. Dogs adjust surprisingly well, it’s humans who have a harder time dealing with it.
Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, ‘Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture’. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with a common-law wife, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap
One of my dogs, Virginia, went blind late last year. I knew it was coming; she has glaucoma, and lost sight in one of her eyes a while before. We’d been keeping the other eye alive with lots and lots of medicine, but the vet told us it was just a matter of time. So, when the morning came and I found her running around crazily all over the house, nose to the ground, I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Still, I was pretty alarmed. And while I read lots on the internet about this, and even saw the articles that said not to panic, the dog will adapt, those articles were almost invariably written by the sort of hyper-caring earth-mother women who could say taking care of a limbless, eyeless, incontinent sea lion was an easy, rewarding experience anyone could do. I didn’t really buy it.
So, when she went blind, I did end up going a bit nuts. She’s a profoundly sweet-natured and smart dog, and seeing her struggle, without benefit of understanding why, was wrenching. I looked into research into artificial vision, surgeries, other medications; everything was either a pipe dream, insanely expensive, and almost nothing guaranteed any vision retention. It was crazy, and while I was being an idiot, Virginia was out there, rewiring her little brain to make it work.
It’s really amazing. In far less time than you’d ever guess, she adapted– far, far better than I ever realized would be possible. I made the usual mistake of anthropomorphizing the animal I live with. Her brain just works differently than ours do: I’m told when they go blind, dogs just think something along the lines of “It’s nighttime always now. Huh. How about that.” and they get on with it. Plus, they’re much less avid readers than us, and, of course, their primary sense is smell, so they’re in a much better position to give up sight than, say, me.
Read the rest of Virginia’s story on Boing Boing, a directory of wonderful things.