If you follow the work of Have A Heart either on Facebook or here in the Mountaineer Echo, then you may recall that in late December we were called upon by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department to assist with an animal hoarding situation. During that effort, we rescued 33 dogs and five cats. While we’re happy to report that around half of those animals have now found their forever homes, we are still working diligently to find that same happy ending for the remaining furbabies. One of those sweet babies is Stevie, who is one of our Pets of the Week and we’ll tell you more about him in just a moment. But first you should know, Stevie is blind. We have no idea if he was born blind or if it developed over time. Before we tell you more about him, we’d like to share some information on how to support a dog who has sight loss. This information comes from a website called The Veterinary Nurse, so if you’d like additional information you can check out that site.
One thing to remember is that the loss of any sense reduces input of environmental information. Most dogs are able to learn to navigate a consistent environment. This means things like keeping furniture and obstacles in the same place and avoiding clutter on the floors. This can help prevent impact or accidents which may undermine confidence and, thus, inhibit future movement.
Table legs, cupboards or other potential hazards can be padded with bubble wrap, pipe insulation or baby proofing products while the dog is adjusting. Barriers should be erected around potential hazards such as ponds and pools, and dog gates can be used across access doorways to areas that are not dog proofed and at the top and bottom of staircases. Blind dogs will often learn to cope with walking upstairs under supervision, but may initially be reluctant to walk down them, especially small dogs that require a leap of faith if they cannot see where they will land. Ramps can be very useful on short runs of stairs.
Avoid picking up blind dogs when possible. Allowing them to navigate consistent and hazard free areas builds confidence. It also enables them to maintain their bearings. If lifting is essential, try to always set them down in the same place, such as their bed, so they know where they are.
Blind dogs can still enjoy games, modified to their needs. Tug and other contact games can be continued and interactive ball and retrieve games can be maintained by adding a sound or smell dimension to the toy so the blind dog can locate it. There is much more great information on the above-mentioned website. But, now let us introduce Stevie!
As mentioned, Stevie was rescued from an animal hoarding situation, so he’s been around lots of other animals. He is approximately five years old, male, brown and white terrier mix that currently weighs in at 21 pounds. He is cute as can be and seems to have adjusted very well to his blindness. Here’s what his foster mom wrote about him:
“Stevie is a very special loving boy. He is blind but it doesn’t slow him down. He has amazed us with how well he has adapted to his surroundings. Stevie gets along well with all the other dogs in his foster home and has chosen a few to play with. He LOVES slippers, learns quickly, and has mastered using steps to get into bed with his foster mom. Stevie wants nothing more than to be loved and give love back.”
Also, we want to reintroduce Butterscotch! He was briefly introduced last week as part of a group of five cats that came to the shelter after their human was diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor. Butterscotch has adjusted quickly and well and he’s ready to find his forever home/humans. He is a super chatty, very friendly red tabby with white. Born in July 2017, he’s about five and one-half years old. He doesn’t mind being held or carried and will carry on quite the conversation with you.
If you’d like to meet Stevie, Butterscotch, or any of our other adoptables, please give us a call at 870/449-7387 or come by the Shelter at 657 Highway 202 West in Yellville during our regular hours, Wednesday through Saturday, 9 am to 3 pm.