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Hello everyone, looking for some wise words. We have 2 labs, Tilly will be 12 in October and Harvey is 7. Harvey has progressive retinal atrophy, he is visually impaired but will progress to blindness.
I am thinking ahead a bit. Tilly is getting on, and in the natural scheme of things she will go to Rainbow Bridge before Harvey. Harvey will need a companion he can rely on, after Tilly goes. So I'm thinking, would it be sensible to start looking now (we will be specific in not having a puppy nor an overly bouncy lab), so that he can get to know it before he goes totally blind? I dont like the idea of him being left without anyone.
Tilly is amenable, we took in a chocolate lab for 3 years before we lost him at Christmas, so we know she would be ok with a third dog.

Any thoughts? And where should I look?

Many thanks
 

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First off, dont worry. PRA is quite slow progressing, giving Harvey plenty of time to adapt, and adapt he will! Over the years I've had two blind Labradors. The first was Mandy who was my first Labrador born in 1972, many years before canine eye testing and VERY many years before the DNA test for PRA was developed. (I have to say, your breeder was very remiss in not DNA testing before breeding Harvey, this problem could so easily have been avoided. But enough of that, you have what you have.) I first started to notice little changes in Mandy at about the age Harvey is now, difficulty in poor light. (PRA was known as "Night Blindness") Gradually the blindness progressed until by around 10 years years old she was totally blind. But taking all that time her other senses started to take over, both smell and hearing. She still enjoyed a little off lead potter around. Just occasionally she would get up wind of me and would loose my scent, but at that age she was not likely to be moving anywhere very fast so I could always hurry around the other side of her so she had my scent. I think it was important that she was always able to find me, so maintaining her confidence.

My other blind dog was Katy, who developed diabetes and developed sugar cataracts. She went blind very quickly, and with no time to adapt took it very hard. She relied on me for everything. A hand on her side to tell her which way to turn, and certainly no off lead walking, she would just freeze!

Both were perfectly happy in the house and garden. I never changed anything either rearranging furniture or garden so both could find their way around easily, following the scent trails of earlier strolls around.

As to getting another dog, that may or maynot be a good idea. Just because he was ok when his eyesight was fine does not mean that he will have the same trust now his eye sight is failing. He would be fine with Tilly because he knows her so well and trusts her, but the situation now, with a strange dog could be totally different.

Below is both Mandy and Kate, seen with my mother and father at Stonehenge many years ago, sadly all four long dead now. Mandy with my mother, Katy with my father.

26843
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
First off, dont worry. PRA is quite slow progressing, giving Harvey plenty of time to adapt, and adapt he will! Over the years I've had two blind Labradors. The first was Mandy who was my first Labrador born in 1972, many years before canine eye testing and VERY many years before the DNA test for PRA was developed. (I have to say, your breeder was very remiss in not DNA testing before breeding Harvey, this problem could so easily have been avoided. But enough of that, you have what you have.) I first started to notice little changes in Mandy at about the age Harvey is now, difficulty in poor light. (PRA was known as "Night Blindness") Gradually the blindness progressed until by around 10 years years old she was totally blind. But taking all that time her other senses started to take over, both smell and hearing. She still enjoyed a little off lead potter around. Just occasionally she would get up wind of me and would loose my scent, but at that age she was not likely to be moving anywhere very fast so I could always hurry around the other side of her so she had my scent. I think it was important that she was always able to find me, so maintaining her confidence.

My other blind dog was Katy, who developed diabetes and developed sugar cataracts. She went blind very quickly, and with no time to adapt took it very hard. She relied on me for everything. A hand on her side to tell her which way to turn, and certainly no off lead walking, she would just freeze!

Both were perfectly happy in the house and garden. I never changed anything either rearranging furniture or garden so both could find their way around easily, following the scent trails of earlier strolls around.

As to getting another dog, that may or maynot be a good idea. Just because he was ok when his eyesight was fine does not mean that he will have the same trust now his eye sight is failing. He would be fine with Tilly because he knows her so well and trusts her, but the situation now, with a strange dog could be totally different.

Below is both Mandy and Kate, seen with my mother and father at Stonehenge many years ago, sadly all four long dead now. Mandy with my mother, Katy with my father.

View attachment 26843
Thanks John for your encouraging stories. I guess it is an unknown really, whether it would be best for Harvey to search for another dog now or later 🤷‍♀️.

What a fabulous photo for you to treasure!

Babs
 
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