PDlogo   Jackson -  Living Happily With Blindness


Jackson, my 9 year old male Irish Setter, was diagnosed with diabetes in June 1999. From the beginning, Jackson's diabetes was hard to regulate. In November of 1999, I noticed his eyes clouding over. My vet confirmed my worst fears - cataracts from the diabetes were forming. By December, Jackson was blind.

The initial diagnosis was devastating to me. I alternated between guilt, fear, depression, extreme sadness, etc. My initial reaction was that Jackson and I would no longer be able to do all the things we were used to doing. Jackson has always been an active dog - he loves to run for the sheer joy of running. Of course, he's slowed down the last couple years due to his age but he still loved getting out, running through the creeks, etc.

Jackson running It slowly dawned on me that I could not make the decision for Jackson as to what he could or couldn't do. It was up to Jackson to make that decision.

Well - guess what?! - very little has changed. We still go to the local homeless shelter twice a month where the kids staying at the shelter can pet, walk, feed, and brush Jackson. Sure, he bumps into things but his tail wags the entire time and the kids still hide the biscuits and Jackson can still find them.

We still take walks - we just have a new routine. As we come to a curb I say "step down" and on the other side I say "step up". I still take Jackson to the park, put him on a 60-foot lead and let him trot along exploring as he wants to. I will yell "careful" or "easy" as he gets to a tree, bush or fence and he knows this means slow down, something is there. This summer I will take him to the park with the creek and let him run through the water like he's done so many times before. I can't wait. 

Jackson Jackson is a candidate for cataract removal but I have chosen not to have the surgery done for many reasons: 1) cost - Jackson's diabetes with his many infections is expensive and I want to make sure I have enough money on hand for the next infection, black widow spider bite, or other emergency; 2) surgery is risky for a diabetic and I just don't want to chance it; 3) I don't want to put him through the recovery process; and most importantly, 4) Jackson has adjusted wonderfully to his blindness.

Jackson has adjusted with such ease and grace, it's truly amazing. He truly is an inspiration to those who know him and those who are yet to meet him. His blindness is much harder on me than on him - he has no clue that he is blind or that he has a handicap. His quality of life has not diminished at all.

After Jackson's diabetes diagnosis, we became even closer. Well, let me tell you, with his blindness we are even closer. I realize how much Jackson must trust me to go walking anywhere I take him without hesitation. He knows I will not let him get hurt.

If you just found out that your dog is going blind, please believe me when I tell you that both of you will and can adjust to the blindness. It truly is harder on us than it is on them. There is no way for you to understand what I've just said when this is all new to you. Back in November, I did not feel this way. If someone had read a crystal ball a year ago and told me that Jackson would have diabetes and be blind, I would have just collapsed knowing I couldn't handle it. But when faced with it, we can handle it and our pets handle it much more gracefully than we do. One wonderful side effect, is that you and your pet will be even closer.

-- Contributed by Leslie.   

BLIND_DOGS If your dog is visually impaired or blind, you may want to read this book: Living with Blind Dogs. By Caroline Levin. A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low Vision Dogs. 

Return to the cataract page and read other experiences from owners whose pet had cataract surgery.


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Contributed August 2000
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