Today is International Blind Dog Day

If you are new to caring for an animal whose eyesight is changing, today is a perfect day to get on all fours and see what life looks like from the perspective of your four-legged friend.

Barley Thelonious has accompanied me, my friends, and my family on this earth for approximately 10 years. A Shih Tzu/Pomeranian mix, he was saved from being euthanized in California when he was about 2 years old and was flown to Arizona by a network of organized volunteers. When the plane encountered dangerous weather leaving California, Barley's journey continued by van. He has participated in political protests and caregiving sessions, been a ghost editor to this writer and a reminder to breathe. In addition to sharing the space with three Siamese cats and a 65 lb tortoise named Benny (the tortoise lives outside), Barley leads a full life in spite of a congenital heart condition and chronic arthritis, which we like to call wisdom pains. 

Yet recently, his eyes began to cloud over and his vision began to deteriorate. My mom sent me this informative and accessible article from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals called "9 Tips for Living with Blind Dogs." I hope it is useful for you too.

Of the many specific tips for anticipating new needs and possible precarious environments, the tip I found most useful and memorable was to crawl around on the floor with your smaller friend and see the map of their world. Another option is to use a phone selfie stick. And if you are like me, and your eyesight is changing, and your body is aching, you might get some "wisdom pains" too — so ask a friend to help! Finally, you could also try using a "halo" harness to protect their head when confronted with a wall.

Barley Thelonious. Photo by A.E. Gómez