| Just about 5 years ago my husband and I decided
that it was finally time to get a dog. I had a friend whose cousin bred JRT's and had told him
a few months earlier that the next time there was a litter to let us know. We really couldn't
decide what type of dog we'd like and were talking about options when we got notice that a
litter had been born. There was one female and if we wanted her she was ours. We said YES and
drove out to see the puppies a few days later. It was love at first sight with our little girl
Stella, she was so small she fit into one hand. When we got home my husband decided she needed
a friend and after a couple days of coaxing (HOW do you own TWO JRT's?!??!?!?) I agreed, called
the breeder and told him we'd take the male that had looked just like her.
Stella & Barney came home 8 weeks later and have brought us nothing but laughter and love. I am
so glad we opted for 2, they keep each other company and they always have someone to play with!
After 6 months they no longer looked like twins because it turns out he is a wirehair and she's a
Stella is a typical JRT - boundless energy that you wish you could bottle and use yourself, always
happy, and obsessed with the ball. We call her "Sporty Spice" because she was always ready to get
out there and catch the ball mid-air at full speed. Barney could care less about a ball but loves
to chase Stella when she's chasing the ball.
In April of this year Stella woke up one Saturday and my husband knew immediately that something
was wrong, because she had her tail tucked. She was also squinting. I was out of town and he
debated for a couple minutes whether to call the vet or just hold off. He decided that if I were
there I'd be on the phone so he brought her in. The vet informed us she had glaucoma and if he had
not brought her in she could have gone blind that weekend. He gave all the drops needed to relieve
the pressure on her eye and set us up to see a Vet Ophthalmologist on Monday.
Stella's glaucoma was brought on by a condition common in JRT's around 4-5 years of age. The
filials holding her lens in place had begun to deteriorate, and because the lens had moved the
fluid could not drain from her eye, causing glaucoma. She inspected Stella and informed us that in
fact BOTH of her eyes were affected. We needed to have at least the left lens removed because it
was 60% detached; otherwise if the lens detached completely it could fall to the back of her eye,
detach the retina and render her completely blind. By doing the surgery we had the chance of Stella
being able to see light & shadow and be very farsighted, but no guarantee that she would not
eventually go blind. We opted to have both lenses removed at the same time to avoid having to go
through 2 separate recovery periods, because keeping a JRT quiet for 2-3 months is quite a
challenge! It was the right decision - when they went in her left lens was detached 80%, the right
60%. Both had gotten progressively worse over a 2 week period.
Her recovery went well. She'd run into corners and doors on occasion but adjusted very quickly. It
was much harder on us than it ever was on her - she never gave it a second thought and just dealt
So Stella is not completely blind, but she can no longer catch the ball mid-air and has a little
trouble seeing at night, however her boundless energy and perpetual happiness has never wavered.
She is still ball obsessed, and goes more by sound and smell these days. She can't see the yellow
tennis balls in the house as well which is fine by us, she'll hunt for it until she finds it which
keeps her busy for 10-15 minutes. We have had to cut back on throwing the ball in the backyard
because if it goes into the bushes she goes right after it and because she can't really see does
not close her eyes. We have had to deal with a very bad scratch as a result, and are trying
doggles. The attached photos have all been taken after her surgery - she LOVES swimming and getting
the ball in the summer, and as long as it's bright yellow she can find it in the blue water.
Story by: Sarah Tomasetti