We have a one-eyed dog.
He has been that way for several (9) years now. He is only 10 years old. We have gotten so used to it by now that it rarely comes to our attention.
Until, of course, we take him for a walk…
“Oooohhhhhhh, poor doggie! What happened to his eye? Where did it go?” This is what the kids on the street sympathetically ask as we stroll in the hood. Adults are curious too, of course. It’s not something you see every day, and no one likes to think of the terrible way he lost it, and how much he suffers not having it.
The truth is, he is so much better off now that it is gone. It was causing him tremendous pain, and he was blind in it anyhow, with no hope of getting his sight back in the eye. Thank goodness we were able to save the remaining one!
Toby came from a lab rescue facility in Kentucky. In the last trimester of pregnancy with my first child, I knew we wanted a dog, but wasn’t up for housebreaking a pup AND changing diapers multiple times a day…I mean, a girl has her limits! I felt that an adult rescue would be a better option, and since Toby was a year and a half old, we would settle in to a routine rather easily before the baby arrived.
When we got him, he had 2 beautiful, soulful brown eyes. They were so expressive and sweet. We signed the papers, loaded him in the car, and headed for the heavenly hills of home. We took a few photos of him as we stopped in Huntington to show Steven’s parents their first granddog.
He settled in to our home in time, showing his sweet quirky personality. Toby doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, and he loved to go for walks in the woods. We lived in Edgewood at the time, so the paths in Cato park became a daily routine. The walks were good for me, good for the impending arrival, and great for Toby.
One day, however, we were walking and he stopped several times to rub his head. His eyes were a little red…hmmm…maybe he had come in contact with something that set off an allergic reaction…oak pollen? a weed? The eyeballs themselves looked ok, so I made a note to self — Toby goes to work with me tomorrow if a dose of Benadryl doesn’t fix what ails him.
The next morning, his eyes were a little cloudy… this was NOT right… something was bad wrong. I took him in to the office, measured the pressure in his eyes, stained them for ulcers, and looked at them with a light. My tests showed that the pressures in his eyes were low — the opposite of glaucoma. Toby had uveitis, which is inflammation in the eye.
Uveitis can be caused by MANY different diseases. Uncovering the cause can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack!
After many tests involving bloodwork, xrays, and special tests sent off to the lab I became flustered. All the tests were coming back normal, but Toby’s eyes were getting worse. My belly, at the same time, was getting bigger and bigger.
I knew I had to get Toby to a specialist or he would run the risk of going blind. He was starting to mope around and squint a lot. My poor puppy! But as my due date drew closer, it was hard to figure out how to make that work. This is kind of how my phone call went with the front desk at Virginia Tech:
Front desk: Can you come Monday at 10:30 am?
Me: Umm, no, I have a doctor’s appointment that morning. I am 9 and 1/2 months pregnant.
Front desk: Oh my! How about the 27th?
Me: Gosh, that’s probably not good either, as it is 4 days before my due date, it’s winter, and I don’t want to go into labor on the side of the road with a sick dog on an icy stretch of 460 east…
Front desk: Oh, well, that’s true enough! Anyone else who could bring him?
I had to think about this one. My husband was afraid to go because he might miss my going in to labor. At the same time, our sweet Toby was in trouble. Big trouble.
WHAT TO DO????
Then, it came to me. My BFF, the gal I can count on through thick and thin. At the time, she was working from home. It was a big big favor to ask ANYONE. Would she be willing to give up an entire day to take care of my poor pup?
I nervously called, but never had to worry. Of COURSE she would ! How could I even think otherwise?!
We scheduled the appointment for Monday the 30th, I think around 10 am. I went to bed Sunday, anxious after a day of completely rearranging every pot, pan, fork, ramekin, and potholder in my kitchen. I was tired, nervous about Toby, and feeling very, very pregnant. At least the trusty ophthalmologist at Virginia Tech would be getting to the bottom of Toby’s eye pain — Calgon moment averted.
I slept beautifully that night. I woke up at 6 a.m., and felt a gripping spasm in my belly…
At 6:30, my BFF arrived at the door to get Toby. I gave her my keys, handed over my credit card, kissed my pooch goodbye, and told her I thought I was in labor.
And I was! The doctor confirmed it at my 8 a.m. appointment!
The rest of the day was chaotic, of course. I did speak with Dr. Pickett , the head opthalmologist at VT at some point during the day. He confirmed that Toby had uveitis, added that he was having trouble detecting the cause as well, but gently told me that the retina had just detatched due to a pocket of infection behind it. Toby’s eye was now red, painful, and blind with no hope of regaining sight. It had to go. They tried to sample the fluid behind the retina, but it didn’t reveal the cause either. He suspected a fungal infection called blastomycosis, but didn’t find any of the organisms in the fluid sample. We started treatment for it, in hopes that it would save the other eye if it was blastomycosis.
My BFF brought Toby home that day, and my trusty colleage, Dr. Robert Marshall, removed his eye the next day. It made me sad — he was such a handsome pup, but the eye was so painful that removing it gave me relief that he wasn’t suffering … the painful eye was gone.
The eye was sent off for a biopsy. Five days later, blastomycosis was confirmed. Thanks to Dr. Pickett, Toby’s other eye was already starting to look better. He could still see!
And boy, did I enjoy showing him our beautiful new son!
So the questions about his eye being gone don’t bother me. He chases after squirrels or rabbits or deer when I take him out to the woods. He is eternally happy and sweet. He is not suffering or in pain. He’s better off.
The questions actually bring back memories of a very very special day and gratitude to all who pulled together — while I pushed!