Meet Tess!

 Tess is a great dog; she's the kind of dog that everyone wants. She is goofy, loves to be loved and had never been anything but well-behaved. My fiance and I adopted Tess from a humane society in Boulder, CO shortly after moving into our apartment together. We'd gone to inquire about another dog, but Tess raised a ruckus and stole my fiance's heart and she came home with us the same day. She was already eight years old, and she is a poodle/terrier mix. Before we adopted her, Tess had already done a stint at the same shelter where she was adopted out and then returned with another dog. Her family cited financial reasons as the cause for surrender. When we found her, she had literally been in her pen for only a half hour. It was meant to be.

Tess has been a joy in our lives. She had such a present personality and entertains us with her silly antics. She's like the naughty child you can't get mad at because she's too cute. Everyone always compliments that she has the cutest face and the prettiest brown eyes. And she is a total Momm'a Girl. We counted ourselves lucky because despite her age, she has always been in good health and good spirits.

One day, a few months after she turned nine, we noticed that Tess started bumping into walls. She would seem confused walking around the apartment. She'd clip corners when going from room to room and would have to spend a few minutes sniffing out food or treats and even us. And finally. she seemed slightly depressed. We were deeply concerned because it seemed to have happened literally over night. So we took her to the vet to have her eyes checked out. I was fearing something like SARDS or a brain tumor or something.

Instead, we were met with both good and bad news. The vet diagnosed Tess with progressive retinal atrophy, a genetic disease in which the retinas slowly die because of a decrease in blood flow. Her brain and her eyes are just barely communicating. The vet felt that she still has very very slight vision left, as her eyes do react to light, but at an extremely slow rate. Her eyes always seem dilated. Eventually, though, Tess' retinas will die and she won't even have that. Because it's genetic, there is not much the vets can do for her. She is just an unlucky pup swimming in the gene pool. But our vet felt that she was amazingly well adjusted for a newly blind dog. She is not jumpy or afraid of new or sudden sounds or touches. She takes all her head and nose bumps in stride. Our vet said that even without her vision, Tess would learn to adapt and lead a full and happy life.

We were relieved it wasn't something more serious, but still sad that she's lost her sight. It's funny how dogs can pick up on our emotions, because the whole week leading up to her appointment, we were sad and upset and worried, and her own moods reflected that, I think. I think it's why she seemed so depressed. And now that we've got a diagnosis and are ourselves learning how to adapt to having a blind dog in the house, we are much more relieved and happy and she has perked right up along with us.

I wanted to thank you for this website. The tips listed here have really helped me think about and deal with my girl losing her eyesight, and some of them are already helping her learn to maneuver our apartment successfully.
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