Hi, my name is Becca and I live in Rhode Island.
My 13-yr. old Puggle Artie (just had his birthday June 26th,) was seen yesterday by an ophthalmologist regarding his cataracts due to the last few weeks of concerning behavior. Though the cataracts are present, I was in shock to find out he is now completely blind due to SARDS.
It started very rapidly about 4 weeks ago; first he would wake me up at all hours of the night crying to go outside to the bathroom, then I noticed that his thirst had increased, as well as his appetite markedly. Being a Puggle, I can tell when something is wrong with him just by his tail- if it is curled up he is happy, and when it’s not he’s either not feeling well, he is bored, scared, sad, or something is bothering him- and it has been uncurled for about a month now. I have had him since he was 8 weeks old- he is my best friend- I know his mannerisms, different barks; I know my dog well and something was very wrong.
Then the heavy drooling started, and I would find him standing in a room just staring at a wall; like he was zoned out and staring into space. Soon after, around two weeks ago, he started bumping into chairs and other furniture, and seemed to ignore me when I called him. When we went for our walks, he would tire out quickly or lose interest, and I would have to bribe him with a treat to get him outside. When we take our walks he always wants to smell around (prob from being half Beagle,) and I live in a very rural area; there are prickly bushes everywhere like briars and blackberries, and also due to the larger than normal eyes he has due to his breed, I am so scared he is going to injure them I have cut back on his food slightly and treats bc he has gained 2 pounds in the last month- from 31 to 33 lbs, which is heavy for his frame.
I want to engage him, and don’t really know what to do. He no longer wants to play at all (in May he was running around as if he were a puppy- he has always had a lot of energy,) but now I can’t seem to get his interest for walking or exercising; all he wants is food- though I now have to ‘tap’ on his food bowl even when he hears me put down his meal because he cannot see it.
I read that dogs that get SARDS are also usually thought to have Cushing’s Disease- he was tested for that at the recommendation of his vet just a few months ago. He was tested negative as well for diabetes, but my primary vet thought the vision issue was due to his cataracts which aren’t completely ripe but are substantial. Last night when I was given the diagnosis, the Ophthalmologist compared the cataracts to him looking through a foggy shower door, but after the ERG test, concluded he was now completely blind and diagnosed him with this horrible and untreatable disease, SARDS. To add to my grief, it is so frustrating that they don’t have any answers as to what causes it and warned me that anyone who says it can be cured would be taking advantage of me.
I am doing my best to remain hopeful; not crying in front of him, praising him, and researching training ideas and reading up as much as I can online. I would be very interested in a trainer that specializes in dogs with blindness to help me ‘retrain’ him as I am so new to this (and want to make sure I am not making my dog feel worse,) but can’t seem to find one, and am on a very limited income. All of my savings were pretty much depleted during the last few months of veterinary appointments, and then in attempting to uncover the mystery of his abnormal behavior.
We have lived in the same house for almost 7 years; he is struggling somewhat but knows the ‘lay of the land’. ANYTHING that you could recommend or suggest would be immensely appreciated. I am in unchartered territory and want to make him as happy and as comfortable as possible. My first step is purchasing baby gates today to install at the top and bottom of the single staircase in my home.
I don’t want to lose my best friend; they say that SARDS is permanent, but some websites claim they have a cure- I was warned about this by my vet, but wish it were true.
Please contact me anytime, I really could use advise from someone who is familiar with this horrible and understudied disease, SARDS, and will do anything to get my Artie happy again and allow him to enjoy his ‘golden years’ instead of seeing him look so sad. Any suggestions, advice, or assistance you have for me would make me eternally grateful,
Sincerely and Respectively,