Optic Neuritis/Blindness? Any feedback welcome!

JRT_Rattie_Mom

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#1
We took our 2 1/2 year old JRT, Lucy to 24 hour emergency vet
last night. She suddenly went totally blind (we know for sure she could see 5 hours before she was totally blind) and the vet diagnosed her as having optic neuritis, and no guarantee that she will see again. She put her on Prednisone, but we took her to our regular vet clinic on Sunday for blood tests, and to be referred to an ophthalmologist. Her blood test showed a high white cell blood count, so they said not to give her anymore of the Prednisone.

The vet that saw Lucy at the emergency clinic didn't sound very encouraging that she will get her sight back, and her regular vet today was even less encouraging. We will still see the ophthalmologist next week to get a final diagnosis. I looked this condition up on a veterinary information web site, and it sounds like after 3 weeks on Prednisone if it isn't corrected, it is then considered to be permanent blindness, and that the long term prognosis is still not good because it tends to be recurrent. If anyone has any personal information/experience with optic neuritis I would love to hear from you! Other than the information I've had from the two vets that saw Lucy in the last 24 hours, the information I found on this condition was here:
http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/courses/vet_eyes/conotes/con_chapter_12.
html#opticneuritis

We spent most of this next day just feeling numb, and still in shock over
how this happened to our Lucy so suddenly! And even worse, with not much hope for her to regain her sight. By this afternoon all we could do was be "amazed" at how quickly Lucy has adapted to not being able to see.
She knows our house and yard so well that she can now walk most
anywhere in the house without running into anything, and walks the
yard like a pro!

My sister, Janet loves Lucy just like she was her own dog, and when
she heard the news she came over. We decided to take the dogs to the
off-leash dog park to find out how Lucy was going to do with that
since it is her very favorite thing to do!)

AMAZING is all I can say! Even though I am still just devastated
about this, Lucy was so happy to be at the dog park, and even felt
confident enough to jump up onto the picnic table (her favorite hang-
out place) all by herself in the first 5 minutes we were there! She
was a little overwhelmed if there was too much dog "action" going on
around her, and she got bumped (this is a small dog area... so they
are all under 25 lbs.) but after 30 minutes or so she started to not
be as concerned about what was happening around her. Janet took Lucy
down to the end of the park where there were no other dogs, and she
was rolling a tennis ball across the dry grass for Lucy. She would
tell her "go" and Lucy would go pretty much straight to the ball give
or take a few inches.. but could smell and find it. She was so proud
of herself... and we were so proud of her! :)

The real highlight of the evening though... was when a Cockapoo named
Stitch came to the park, that Lucy had never even know before
tonight. He was just about her size, and Stitch just walked right up
to Lucy, and she immediately went into "play mode" with him, jumping
around, wrestling with him etc. She could tell/hear where he was all
the time, because there were no other dogs there anymore (except for
our Holly) and to watch them play you never would have even guessed
that Lucy couldn't see him!

So, as badly as we are feeling about this right now, I am now able to
feel so much hope that Lucy WILL still have a very active/fun JRT
life ahead of her... if she did this well on her first day of being
blind :)

Thanks for any advise anyone might have on experience with optic neuritis, or experience with helping a blind dog live life to the fullest! I'll post again once we learn more on if there is anything that can be done for our sweet Lucy girl.
 
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#2
Karen, you've certainly got all of our compassion.

It's probably much harder on you than it is on Lucy. My parents have a blind Australian Shepherd, O'Reilly, who is nearing the end of his life at about 15 years old. O'Reilly is a wonderful creature. He was born blind, and we rescued him on what was to have been the last day of his life as a 3 month old puppy at the local shelter. It seems no one wanted a blind puppy. He is a blessing and has taught us all so much, in addition to passing on the legacy. My Bear raised him, and he raised Bimmer, who in turn is raising Shiva and Kharma. O'Reilly is also one of the best watch(?) dogs ever! He's totally fearless, and until recently has been the epitome of the energetic Australian Shepherd. He's even a good herder. He used to drive my sister's little Jack Russell, Braec, insane by herding him out of mischief.

Go ahead with the opthamologist, and follow the treatment program, but bear in mind that Lucy is going to be happy no matter what - as long as her family loves her and continues to treat her like the fearless little atomic ball of energy she is.

Kudos to your vet for checking her blood count and getting her off the prednisone when it proved necessary. It sounds like you've got caring, competent veterinary care.

You might want to check out these sites: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/blinddogs/ and http://home.gci.net/~sleddog/index.htm

Keep us posted on Lucy's progress.
 

RD

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#3
Absolutely, Renee, I agree. It's far harder on the owners to find out that their dog is blind than on the dog to find out they are blind. I know a lady with 6 blind dogs, one of which is also deaf, and they all get around GREAT, they all even catch balls and frisbees. (DO NOT ask how they do it, I have NO idea!)
 

pitbulliest

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#4
I'm very sorry to hear about what happened to Lucy, but at the same time, I'm very happy to hear that she's doing so well.

Here's a site about blind dogs that I checked out a little while ago...you might find it usefull:
http://www.blinddogs.com/
 

JRT_Rattie_Mom

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#5
Thanks for your support... & update

Lucy saw the opthalmologist today, and we didn't get good news. It turned out she didn't have optic neuritis, but does have SARDS, (sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome)with no treatment available for it. Lucy is much younger than most dogs that get this at 2 1/2. The opthalmologist said dogs are usually around 7 years & up, and she maybe only sees 15-20 cases per year.

I really wasn't expecting very good news (just hoping) so at least we know now what we're facing. I appreciated the links for the blind dog group on yahoogroups, which I joined. I've read lots of info on helping blind dogs, and found this cute site with a "hoop" that is hooked to a harness that goes out in front of the dog to protect them from bumping into things. http://www.pepedog.com/ and thought I might try and make one of those to see if it helps Lucy.

I was a long day for Lucy, and she seemed pretty depressed tonight, for the first time. I know there will be an adjustment period, so will just hang in there... and I know things will get better!

Thanks again for your support!
 
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#6
I'm so sorry the news wasn't good, but now you know what you're dealing with and can start adjusting.

Just walking with a harness can be a real help. O'Reilly has always enjoyed hiking when we go camping, and he's able to stay on the trail easily by feeling the undergrowth on the side of his face. When there's an obstacle coming up, we tell him, 'over' and he hesitates, uses his nose to 'see' how high it is, then goes over.

Lucy's going to bump her nose a bit, (keep some good betadine salve handy) but will start developing 'radar' and as long as you don't move the furniture around too often, won't have any problem in her own domain. I think you'll also see Holly start to act as Lucy's eyes sometimes, too.
 

JRT_Rattie_Mom

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#7
Update on Lucy's blindness

I just wanted to post an update on how Lucy is doing. She has now been blind for 2 weeks, and she continues to amaze us with how well she is adjusting. Once we "humans" accepted that Lucy was going to be blind... we figured out that it wasn't going to be quite so easy for our Rat Terrier, Holly, to understand at just 5 1/2 months old.

I think Holly has had the most adjusting do to of all of us. Lucy & Holly had been the best of friends for the 1 1/2 months we had Holly before Lucy went blind. Lucy had to get very tough with Holly to let her know she was not going to put up with anymore of her puppy "antics" like jumping into her face (when she can no longer see her coming!) and Holly has had to grow up a little before her time!

After the first week things have smoothed out for them, and Holly has a lot more respect for Lucy. I've noticed Lucy accepting help from Holly in finding toys (though she is darn good at it still!) and at the off-leash dog park she has actually "ran" with the other dogs when they get going... by following the sound of Holly's tags :) Lucy now has the cutest little "rocking horse" type run... not the full-speed ahead she always had before... but her own style of running!

Lucy is also much more willing to cuddle up and sleep with Holly than she was before... when she had to be the alpha dog! We are also able to "sneak in" some extra attention to Holly (now that Lucy can't see everything!) to show her how much we love her! I know Lucy will continue to appreciate all of the benefits to having her "little sister" as time goes on... and I am just SO happy we adopted Holly when we did! We never expected Lucy to need a seeing-eye dog... but Holly is an awesome one!!
 
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#8
Karen, that's wonderful to hear. It won't be too long before you'll see Lucy barrelling around at full-tilt-boogie as she becomes more and more confident of her surroundings. O'Reilly ran like a maniac before age caught up with him.
 
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#9
I too have a newly blind dog affected by SARDS!!!!
Holly's condition seemed much better than my dog. Anyways before we found out about her blindless,i've actually observe some kind of depression in her,and lots of intake of water,which made her gain some weight. My dog is adjusting pretty well i guess,except for the potty time that both of us are struggling with ( http://www.chazhound.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76396 ) .She also didn't play with her old toys anymore,alot less exercise unless i take her to a walk which meant literally walk(no run due to insecurity).

Anyways was wondering if you found any good sources or websites and tips you could help me out with dealing with her blindness. So far i found a few websites.but mostly just shooting in the dark. All i could really do is make her happier and happier everyday =) Good luck to you and Holly.
 

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