Finding out that your dog is blind can be a scary bit of news at first; wondering how you and your dog will adjust can leave you feeling sad and unsure.
No doubt — whether you are a new adopter and are bringing a blind dog into your house for the first time, or you are a longtime dog owner whose dog is living with deteriorating sight, it will be an adjustment for both of you.
But Karen Belfi, president of the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, wants the public to know that blind dogs can live normal, happy lives. “I do everything with my blind dogs that I do with my sighted dogs,” she says. Her dog, Pete, a Siberian Husky–Beagle mix, lost his eyes due to injuries incurred when he was hit by buckshot. Though he is now blind, Belfi says he is as capable as a dog with sight. “You would never believe he is blind if you saw him run around,” she says.
The most important bit of advice Belfi has for owners of blind dogs is not to coddle them. “The dog needs to learn to get around,” she says, “and carrying them and babying them won’t help them learn.”
Dawn Rehus, a certified pet training instructor, has ample experience working with blind dogs and their owners. “Blind dogs can do almost all things a seeing dog can,” she says. She adds that most of the time, a dog can adjust to blindness quickly.