Ali’s genetic sight impairment


Ali - Blind DogAli is a three year old Aussie who is genetically sight impaired in both eyes and deaf. I think, though, that she just recently has lost all sight in her left eye and maybe this eye has recently sunk in a bit.

Ali’s left eyeball is quite small, and misshapen; I have to do a little extra to keep it clean, as I don’t think her eye naturally does what it needs to when dust or particles get in there. She gets infections despite my best efforts and a week ago, the doctor removed a very small wood flake. Had it been a foxtail or something along those lines, it could have been more problematic. It’s probable that this will keep happening; therefore, as a preventative measure I am exploring enucleation.
It feels really great to read peoples’ stories here, thank you. I’m lucky to have the luxury to plan this as opposed to an emergency/pain relief procedure as most here have endured.

AliExtra details: Ali is a double merle which is significant for two reasons. One, double merles usually have genetic sight and/or hearing impairments. Two, this condition can be avoided through responsible breeding. I’m thankful that it’s becoming more common to let these dogs live.

Ali does not see well in the dark. Going for walks at night is an adventure because shadows move when a car goes by and she thinks she sees something. She’ll come to a screeching halt or bark at something that isn’t there. She’s easily reassured, though. When we walk into the house at night, she stands just inside the door until I turn on some lights. I also leave a hallway light on at night; otherwise, she barks to wake me up when she wants to go get some water. She is a well-adjusted, bossy, loving girl. She’s the supervisor at daycamp and takes great care of her “brother” Tristan.

Ali and TristanA little about Tristan, too, just in case there are others out there who have genetically sight impaired dogs. Tristan is a two year old double merle Aussie, deaf, and sight impaired. Not really related to Ali but he loves her and copies everything she does. It seems that his eyeballs are normal size and shape so I’m hoping he’s stays ok from that perspective. His eyes are a beautiful ice blue, with slightly dropped pupils that are not quite aligned. He sees quite well in the dark, but does not like bright sun at all, complete opposite of Ali. His pupils are star shaped and they don’t react properly in bright light. He won’t play at the dog park during certain times of the day when the sun is just too much. Tristan bonded with Ali and me immediately, but he is afraid of the world in general. He is not well adjusted and he is not easily reassured so I’m working with a behaviorist. He is a beautiful loving boy to Ali and me, though.

For Ali, I have a surgery consult at the end of the month to get educated and perhaps schedule the procedure. It’s really causing me anxiety even though I’ve known from early on that this might be in her future.

4 thoughts on “Ali’s genetic sight impairment

  1. Our Aussie Cattle dog mix is deaf and now blind in the one eye that is being removed today; she has a cataract in the other. She also suffers with a seizure disorder. She is in surgery to have her worst eye removed and we are praying this will give her the relief she needs to put the spring back in her step. She is only about 8 years old. She has such a personality. She certainly doesn’t allow her disabilities to get in her way. So thank you for your story. I just got word that her surgery was a success however, there was a cancerous tumor on the optic nerve so there may be more problems down the line. For now, the vet expects a full recovery from her surgery! So we will take the good news!

  2. Hi – I’m so thankful that your pup’s surgery was a success. It’s hard to realize that a deaf dog may also lose her sight. Ali also has a cataract in her good eye so probably before she turns 5 she will be completely blind and deaf. I’d love to hear more about your girl’s recovery progress when you feel like it.
    I did find a book about nose games for dogs and I will update with the correct name when I locate it.
    Also the ophthalmologist gave me two vitamins to give with just a tiny bit of hope that they might stabilize or slow the progress of the cataract. Not a great chance but it can’t hurt to try. I will also get those names in case you’d like to research
    Ali is comfortable and stable so I will schedule eye removal of her bad eye when I can take a week off with her. Perhaps February. Best wishes to you and everyone out there.

  3. Hi Folks – I work with a rescue in Northern California that has taken in many double Merle dogs. Some have been deaf or blind, others both deaf and blind. We have managed to find loving homes for all of them and I want to both congratulate you on sticking with your dogs and reassure you that with a little extra help and love, even deaf and blind dogs lead happy, active lives. It is a shame that some breeders continue to breed double merle Aussies as well as other breeds knowing that 75% or more of each litter will have disabilities. Thank you for staying the course! There are lots of online resources for both blind and deaf dogs…

    1. Thank you so much, Julia, for your rescue work! I can’t say that I have found many online resources but am always looking. I agree, it seems that these pups are just typical dogs and just as much fun. The challenges I have seem to be mostly breed specific and not impairment specific (obstinance). Tristan’s anxiety also may be a result of his early life and maybe not impairments. That’s what I signed up for and that what I find intriguing and what I love. I got Tristan thru AFRP; he was rescued from Shasta county. Maybe you were involved. I picked him up in Pacific Grove. I love my pups. As Ali loses her sight I can see her use her nose more. It’s just incredible how they adjust. I’m hiding treats and touching her nose and tapping her hips to ask her to “find it”. LOVE

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