Quite often I am asked, “Should I get him a guide dog?” I always think of a dynamic duo of Dachshunds I once knew in the clinic. They had lived together for over 7 years when one of the dogs suddenly lost vision and was diagnosed with a condition called SARDS, Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome. Their family told me story after story of how the sighted dog helped his friend on a daily basis, but I will never forget the most chilling. The family had been doing construction on the deck that extended from a second story family room. Sharp, high-alert barks rang out from the deck and they rushed to the window just in time to see the sighted dog run between the open edge of the deck and his blind friend, saving him from a 20-foot fall.
When animals have been living together for years, we often witness touching moments of the sighted helping the blind. But if your pet has lived alone with your family prior to losing vision, adding another animal can add another challenge to the adjustment period. A new puppy or kitten will often move much faster and can be quite a source of surprise, confusion… or even ambush! On the other hand, we have seen heart-warming bonding and play when the new pet is introduced. A trial period with a new addition is always recommended if possible.