This is Gayla. She’s my 7-year-old rat terrier. She’s incredibly loving and intelligent. She loves to play fetch. She’s obsessed with balls. She’s the light of my life. This is her playing fetch with my mom last fall.
Playing fetch was a daily activity for us – it was her favorite thing to do. Whether it was launching a ball in a park or hurling a stuffed toy down the hallway, she was happiest playing fetch.
Sadly, in February, I discovered that she suffers from a genetic condition called Primary Lens Luxation (PLL). PLL is a condition where the eye’s lens will partially or completely dislocate, at times resulting in blindness. To cut a long story short, her right eye had to be removed as well as the lens in her left eye. Somehow throughout all of the trauma, the retina in her remaining eye detached, and so she is now completely, 100% blind.
For the first 8 weeks I felt like I had lost my dog; her personality was gone. She glued herself to me (completely uncharacteristic of her); she wouldn’t play; she had lost her spark. I was frightened that this behavior was permanent and that our days of playing fetch were over.
Thankfully, after 8 weeks, her spark returned. She started to interact with me more, she became interested in playing again, and she was starting to be more like her normal, independent self. After some indication from her that she might be interested in playing fetch, I found a rubber ball with a bell in it. Our first time out in the backyard with the ball was full of tears of joy for me. My baby was back! And I was flat out amazed by her ability to know exactly where the ball was. It almost made me forget she was blind for a moment.
Last week marks the 6 month anniversary of Gayla’s surgery. So, today I stopped at Lone Oak Vet to say a tearful thank you to the doctor who finally gave me a name for Gayla’s condition. I showed the staff how well she has adjusted and told them of our journey from when she was diagnosed to where we are now.
I wanted to share our story in case there are any other pet parents out there whose fur babies may be going blind or have recently become blind. They’ll be okay; but more importantly, YOU’LL be okay, too. With a little love and compassion, and perhaps learning some new routines and commands, they will be almost the same as they were before – perhaps a just little clumsier.