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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Sorry I've not been about for ages, had a bad start to the year, busy at work and even busier with my involvement in Lab Rescue.

I'm off to meet a Labrador tomorrow who desperately needs a home. He's an ex-gundog, 8 years old, but sadly has been blind for about 18 months. Does anyone ahve any experience of a blind dog and how to ensure he's kept safe and happy? I'm hoping my other two take to him and him to them, as he's been waiting for his new home for over 3 months.

Any idea's or shared experiences would be great!! :D

Wendy

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Hi wendy,no experience in that situation sorry,but just to wish you luck with your new charge and i'm sure your two will love him to bits, and as an ex gundog i'm sure once he gets the sniff of your place with the help of your two he'll be fine,keep us posted and take care,Lynne.
 

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hi wendy

again sorry no experience here with blind dogs but i would like to say congratulations on taking this lovely dog on there are loads of dogs out there that need ppl like you to take care of them :):):)
i persume once you got the dog home it would take a lil time getting used to his surroundings and other playmates dont move the furniture around to much :? i think when he gets used to your other dogs he may follow them around the house/garden and they may sense there is something wrong with him and take care of him :):)

i wish you well with your new dog let us know how you get on and piccies we all love piccies :):):)
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Wendy

Many years ago I did know a lady whose lab went blind and she adopted another sighted dog a Jack Russell I think and basically the little one took on the role of sight for the lab and when outside of the house she attached both dogs together with a shortish lead between their collars for walks and stuff and the little one guided the big one around. Around the house obviously she kept everything in the same place but even there the little one would guide the bigger dog around so that he was safe. I suppose you need to see if one of your dogs forms a closer bond with the blind lab I'm sure they will all help they seem to sense when another dog needs help.
Good luck with your new charge hope everything goes well.

Michaela
 

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Hi Wendy
I may be a little early. But I wondered how the meeting went today. I do hope it went well, and that you are able to give the blind dog a forever home. Best wishes Meg
 

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As to how well, or badly, a dog takes to blindness I think it rather depends on why it went blind and how quickly it happened.

When my old Mandy went blind it was something which happened over a period of a couple of years or more. She pretty well adapted to the changing circumstances as they occurred. Just to see her strolling around the house and garden, no one would ever have known she had a care in the world, and I really don't think she did! I used to take her out for a walk into the fields and let her have a root around as she had always done. The only chance was that when I saw her setting off with purpose I knew she was looking for me so I would run around her so she always walked up to me. That way she never knew she was lost and going the wrong way. It kept her confidence.

Katy on the other hand developed Diabetes and sugar cataracts developed so quickly that she never had time to adapt. She was OK in the house and garden, although even there she would occasionally walk into things. Out of the garden she was not so happy and if I ever tried taking the lead off she would panic and stand rooted to the spot.

Fair enough, the lead could stay on and Katy was happy. It's Horses for courses really. Something you will find out in time. Both Katy and Mandy were old dogs so were not going to run fast so trying them off the lead was never going to be a dangerous situation. Maybe a long extending lead, which ordinarily I am not keen on. Could be the way to go in the early days.

Obviously you need to keep everything as near as possible in the same place so that the dog gets use to where it is. Get use to touching the dog on the side if the shoulder to direct it. Be consistent and its amazing how quickly they learn. Katy got use to my hand and always turned towards it. Maybe the opposite to what you might think but try it on a sighted dog and you will always find they push against the hand! (There was even a method of training which some of us tried many years ago where we used this trait to get a dog to position it's self without manhandling it!)

You might try experimenting with voice and whistle recall commands. See which is best for conveying direction. In the days of Mandy and Kate I used voice but having since used whistles for gundog work I get the feeling that dogs possibly can determine the direction of a whistle better than voice. Also get into the habit of thinking wind! Remember can easily follow the scent back to you whereas a dog upwind will have no scent drift to follow.

Regards, John
 

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HI Wendy
Thank you for posting the news I had been waiting for."let me introduce myself" lovely pics. and heart warming to read. Best Wishes Meg
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for all the replies, especially John's; very useful. From what I know of Jake's past, he was diagnosed with PRA however when checked by my vet on Friday he said his cataracts are so bad its difficult to tell whether they were actually the cause of his blindness.

Anyway, Jake is home and doing great. He has bumped his way around the house and garden and seems to be gradually finding where everything is. Its a learning experience for both of us and I know it will take time but he is very responsive to my voice already and does know some commands. I've ordered a long training line for him so we can work on recall and he's walking nicely on the lead so far. We've got loads of lovely countryside around us which Jake is starting to enjoy.

I haven't really noticed Gdog or Poppy 'leading' him as yet, but they are all getting on great and it is early days, so we'll see how it goes :D

Wendy x


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Do you have any knowledge of the reason for the cataracts Wendy? From the photos they do not appear to be the usual hereditary cataracts which Labradors usually get. These are the "Mercedes" car badge three blade propeller type and although will restrict the eye sight do not cause total blindness. The appearance gives me the impression of the kind of injury a working gundog can receive caused by a scratch on the eye. With Labradors the hereditary cataracts are usually late forming, forming between about 6 years and about 8 years of age. Occasionally the early forming type occur but these are not as usual. Obviously the late forming cause big problems for the breed because the breeding life of the dog can be over before the breeder even knows they have a problem. This is the reason why knowledge of the ancestors of both dog and bitch are so important.

Regards, John
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Obviously I can only go on what my vet said, but when he examined Jake's eyes there was no reaction to the light at all and both lenses have cataracts covering them completely. Possibly my earlier post didn't make sense! The vet said it was difficult to tell whether PRA had caused the blindness as the extent of the cataracts prevented him seeing any retinal response.

I believe Jake was checked by the vet while in kennels to see if there was any issue such as a tumour or nerve damage which may have caused the blindness, but to be honest, I'm really not worrying about how it's been caused, I love him to bits already and we'll cope with his lack of vision :)

Wendy x



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Cataract removal is a well established procedure in dogs these days although it is considerably more difficult than in humans. The problem in your case is two fold. One, a vet insurance normally does not cover an already existing condition, leaving you with a four figure bill! And two, even if the cataract is removed, if PRA is present then the condition, as far as the dog is concerned is still the same!! If you were ever to consider cataract removal then about the only route would be to get a DNA test carried out by someone such as Optigen for PRA before you start to determine for sure before you start that you do NOT have PRA or I’m afraid you would be wasting your time and money.

Don’t rush things, spend time allowing Jake to come to grips with his surroundings. I bet he soon learns to have fun with your others, sight or no! After all, eye sight is no where near as important to dogs as it is to us. I also bet your others soon realise he has problems and start to lend a hand. Whatever else they are, Labradors are thinkers and helpers.

Regards, John
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the info John, but surgery is not something I am considering for Jake. He copes well without his sight and as my vet said, the cataracts could be operated on but there is no guarantee his vision would be improved.

Wendy x


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