Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Love is Blind

And so is Tilley. We had noticed a deterioration in her vision over the past few weeks and concluded that it was a combination of her cataracts and all the bright sunlight we've been having on the Lower Mainland. Last Friday I left the house early and the dogs stayed in bed until David got up, as per usual. When he sent them downstairs Tilley hesitated and he thought she had hurt a leg. When he called her over she ran right into the coffee table.

David managed to get her to the regular vet, the veterinary opthamologist and home again before I got back at the end of the day -- what a man! All confirmed that she was blind, but none could give a definite reason why. One test ruled out SARD, but there are plenty of other options. Of course the scariest possibility is that some kind of tumor that has cut both optic nerves. The only way to know for sure is a $2500 MRI. We have already decided that we would not treat such a tumor, so that seems like a lot of money to spend for a potentially-definitive answer. Tomorrow I will take her to our most trusted vet in Vancouver to decide on how we should proceed.

In the meantime watching Tilley adapt to her new disability has been remarkable. On the first day she was stressed right out, with her eyes bugged wide to catch the absent light and her feet lifted high over the uncertain terrain. Saturday was a little better, and Sunday a little better again. As of today you simply cannot tell that she is blind. Fetch has to be carefully played (as we are doing in these pictures) so that she can hear the ball go by, but otherwise life goes on as normal. If I call her she comes right to me, sits a foot from me, and looks right at me (or maybe a little off to one side). She knows where the stairs are, where the invisible kitchen barrier is (dogs are not allowed in the kitchen around here) and all of the places in between. She is getting along so well that I keep suspecting that she has regained some vision, but if I toss a ball at her it will hit her square between the eyes.

If the blindness has been caused by a tumor she does not have much time left, but she seems healthy in all other ways so we are most hopeful that something else has gone wrong. Regardless, her quality of life has barely been affected thus far, which is the most important consideration for me. Wish us luck!


Jean said...

The adaptability of dogs is truly amazing. I hope that Tilley still has many happy years left.

Sixteen paws (well, twenty if you count the cat) and ten fingers all crossed here, and lots of positive vibes going out to Tilley.

AareneX said...

Here's hoping that it's NOT a tumor!!!

Both of my former shelties went blind when they got very old...one had cataracts and could only see out the "edges" of his eye; the other has macular degeneration and could only see out the "center." They both coped with the disability just fine--most people never noticed that they couldn't see.

The only changes I made to their lives was to keep them on a leash when we went to visit people, and to let them ride in the CAB of the truck instead of the (capped) bed as they'd done as younger dogs, so I could keep an eye on them.

Please keep us posted on what your "most trusted vet" says....

Black Jack's Carol said...

Definitely wishing you luck that it isn't a tumor. A good sign, I think, that she is keen to play ball and get on with her happy life.

Carole said...

In my experience, dogs adapt very well to these kinds of physical changes, provided they still feel good otherwise. I've found they also rely on their dog buddies to "help" them - my old deaf beagle couldn't hear a thing, but would still bark enthusiastically when he saw that the other dog was. I hope Tilley stays otherwise healthy and happy so you can enjoy her for a long time yet!

allhorsestuff said...

Oh..shoot, she is so sweet. Amazing how fast they can adapt huh!!
Will be thinking of you and the next vets words!

Anonymous said...

Poor Tilley! There always comes a time when old age creeps in and steals the sight of our beloved pets. They adapt well.

The reminder of their short life at the sign of a frailty rips at our hearts. First, the graying of their muzzle. Then one day, you noticed they've started to slow down. Later on, they may begin to loose sight or hearing, which we may not noticed until it's all gone. We are all too soon reminded of their mortality and must steel ourselves for their eventual passing.

Last night, we adopted a teeny 7 week old puppy. Bringing her home has made clear the advancement of time with our Freya. She is in her autumn years, fast approaching the winter.

My pack and I will keep Tilley in our thoughts.

AareneX said...

Yup, now I can see the STB-ness of Tonka! The colour threw me off!

Have you attended any of the Standardbred game days in Langely? I can't go this year (no $$) but they are a ton of fun, and it's such a blast to see other horses *pace* a barrel racing pattern. The first time I attended, I was in tears, having finally found my people:

"Hi, my name is Aarene and I ride a pacing standardbred...."