How to Help a Blind Dog Adapt


It was a lovely day in coastal Oregon when fourteen-year-old Lisa and her brother Joe went for a swim in the ocean. The tide changed suddenly, turning their lively voices into terrified screams as brother and sister realized these were being pulled into deep water. Joe managed to swim back once again to shore, but could only watch as his sister was pulled farther away from him.

Alerted by Lisa´s screams, a yellow Lab unexpectedly jumped in to the water and started paddling strongly towards her. “Call my dog! His name is Norman. Call his name,” the Labrador´s owner yelled to Lisa from the shore. Guided by Lisa´s voice, Norman valiantly reached her and towed the exhausted teenager back to safety.

This true to life story becomes a lot more miraculous when you learn that Norman was completely blind.

Finding out your pet is going blind may be devastating but, as with Norman in Oregon, most dogs can get along well—and even thrive—without being able to see. The truth is eyesight is not really a primary dog sense. By creating a few minor changes to just how we talk with them, a creatively impaired dog can adjust very well to a household's lifestyle.

“An individual with a blind dog needs to adapt their particular life in lots of ways to the dog's disability, yet these things are neither hard nor challenging—actually, they're easy and even fun for the owner,” says Gayle M. Irwin, an audio, rescue pet advocate, and composer of four books about blind dogs.  

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