Pomeranian Coast

Today is International Guide Dog Day

If you are new to caring for an animal whose vision is changing, today is a perfect day to get on all fours and see what life is like from your furry friend’s perspective.

Barley Thelonious has been with me, my friends and family on this earth for about 10 years. A Shih Tzu/Pomeranian mix, he was rescued from euthanasia in California around the age of 2 and flown to Arizona by a network of organized volunteers. When the plane encountered hazardous weather while leaving California, Barley’s journey continued by van. He has attended political protests and mentoring sessions, been a ghost editor of this writer and a reminder to breathe. Barley not only shares space with three Siamese cats and a 65-pound tortoise named Benny (the tortoise lives outside), but he lives a fulfilling life despite a congenital heart defect and chronic arthritis we like to call wisdom pains.

However, recently his eyes began to cloud and his vision began to deteriorate. My mother sent me this informative and accessible article from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals entitled “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 the most useful and memorable was to crawl around on the floor with your smaller friend and see the map of his world. Another option is to use a phone selfie stick. And if you’re like me and your vision is changing and your body aches, you might get some “wisdom pains” too – so ask a friend for help! Finally, you could also try using a “halo” harness to protect his head when he’s facing a wall.

Barley Thelonious. Photo by AE Gomez