RIP The Little Man aka Little Jack :(
Update - 2009-01-25
Well, the Little Blind Dog is no more... On Saturday January 24 2009, he was given a lethal injection of barbiturates, and passed away peacefully. The injection was administered by the same vet who did his eye removal surgery, and my parents came along to see him off. That morning I also took him to the dog park so he could have one last romp with his best friend. He was the sweetest little dog ever, and I will miss him greatly, but the important thing to remember is that he is no longer in pain.
A Little Background
I adopted a cute little dawgie named Jack from my friend Ted in July 2004. He's a total sweetie, probably about 8 or 9 years old, originally came from the same shelter as Dudley, and is some sort of chow / terrier / possibly lab mix.
He came to me a little chubby, but has since lost somewhere between 12 and 15 lbs (not sure exactly how much he weighed when i got him). He was limping a little due to mild athritis, exacerbated by the excess weight he was carrying around. And last but not least, both of his eyes exhibited the tell-tale bluish tint of cataracts...
I put the little boy on a steady diet of exercise, love, and had him eating organic dog food... And he showed drastic improvement. No more limping, his coat began to shine, and he perked up admirably.
But as time passed, disturbing things started happening. He started walking into walls, stepping straight off 3-foot ledges as if he thought the ground stayed flat, and bumping into street signs... So i took him in to a puppy opthalmologist, who agreed with my diagnosis of cataracts, added one for glaucoma, and confirmed my suspicions that he was now completely blind.
It was too late for surgery... If this had been caught 6 months to a year earlier, it would still have been possible. So she said to monitor him carefully, and check back as necessary.
Over the next couple of weeks, Jack displayed great intelligence and fortitude. He adjusted to blindness like a champ, learning commands alerting him to things in his way, things he had to climb up, and things he had to climb down. He memorized my house, my parents' house, and my neighborhood, navigating around furniture and street signs like a pro.
But as time passed, it became more and more apparent that something was wrong. His eyes were bulging out, he slowed down a great deal, and seemed to be in a fair amount of pain... He was also not interested in going out, wasn't eating regularly, and didn't budge from his spot on the couch. The vet prescribed mild pain medication. For 3 or 4 days, Jack was a new dog - perky again, eager to do the things he loved.
But just as quickly, he slumped again, further into his little well of pain. Both my parents agreed with me that something had to be done. After consulting the vet, it came down to a decision between removing both Jack's eyes or putting him to sleep.
After a long talk with my friend Courtney, a veterinary technician, I had a clearer idea of what to do... So we decided to proceed with surgery.
Little Jack went in bowed under the weight of his pain, and came out tail in the air, with a whole slew of new friends. His adorable personality won over the entire veterinary practice - they all loved him, and kept him up front in the reception area as much as possible, and showered him with snugglies and treats.
Many (most?) dogs become at least a little irritable during this kind of experience... Snapping when you come near their eyes, sometimes when you come near them at all, growling, that sort of thing. But Jack has just accepted this whole thing with more grace than most humans i know would (myself included!)...
After a short period of complications (oozing from one eye, a reaction to the painkiller patches they applied during surgery), Jack came home with no eyes, a shaved spot on his leg from the IV, a shaved spot on his side from the patch, and a little shaved raccoon face with sutures for eyelashes...
The little tyke was overjoyed to see me on Christmas, and on Boxing Day he came home with me.
He enjoys walking, has learned to use sound as smell to figure out where obstacles are, in addition to using his ears rather like antennae.
The one bane of my existence, however, is that my mother totally spoiled him. In order to get him to eat pre- and post-surgery, she made him chicken and vegetable soup, pureed it in the blender, and fed it to him warm, but not hot. Gradually, she added in regular dry dog food, but the little brat will no longer eat plain dog food... A great use for those cans of chopped chicken breast that had been lying around for a while, I guess ;)
And while this situation sucks, I am thankful for it. There are things that happened during Jessica's illness that I did wrong or could have done better, and this gives me a chance to try and make up for that.