My 5 year old Lhasa Apso, Benji, went blind almost overnight (or so it seemed) in May 2013. I first noticed something was wrong when I got him out of the car one day and he crossed the road as he always did to do a wee. On his way back to the house he ran into next door’s car which at the time I thought was odd.
The day before we had been up in the Lakes for a long walk and he was off his lead as usual and enjoying himself as he always did. I kept an eye on him over the next few days and it became apparent that something was not right, he was bumping into furniture and acting completely disorientated.
At first I thought he may have had a stroke but after another lengthy walk the following Sunday it was evident that Benji could not see. He tripped over things, walked past me when I stopped for a drink and really struggled. After a visit to the local vet and more investigative eye tests at a special clinic he was diagnosed with SARDS (Sudden Acute Retinal Degenerative Syndrome). I had been reading about this the night before on the Internet and this diagnosis was the worst news I could have been given, as I knew it meant his blindness was irreversible and he was only 5. I just couldn’t accept that this had happened as he was so young and full of life, he loved his walks and it just seemed so unfair.
To say I was devestated was an understatement and I spent several days in tears refusing to accept this had happened. Seven months later Benji is coping extremely well and is a confident little boy considering. He navigates himself round the house remarkably well, goes up and down stairs by himself and seems to be coping fine, although the area which it has affected the most is our walking.
Benji used to love going up to the Lakes for our rambles and you could see the sheer delight on his face as he ran through the woods and fields. Nowadays he walks like a little old man, bless him and I must admit I find walking him the biggest problem and wondered if anybody else was having a similar experience. Although I tend to keep him to the same route most days for his half hour walk, he has now started lying down several times during a walk and when I try to encourage him to walk he digs his feet into the ground and refuses to move.
Has this happened to anybody’s else’s dog and what does it mean? Does he not want to walk? I have another dog, Charlie, a 6 year old Shih Tzu and would like to start taking him on rambles as I feel he is missing out. Would it be cruel to leave Benji at home while I take Charlie out? I have only attempted this once and when I got back to the house Benji was howling behind the front door which made me feel so guilty. I haven’t attempted it since but would appreciate your thoughts. Benji losing his eyesight has affected our lives and it saddens me every day that his happened to him, but he is an amazing, special little boy and I would be lost without him. My photos of Benji are on Facebook and I haven’t worked out how to upload them yet, but as soon as I do I will.