Okay so he can’t wear his antlers straight and we couldn’t find a real wrapped up holiday box for him to sit in and he won’t be Santa’s next reindeer, but Butch could be one of the best dogs you’ll ever love.
Butch is almost 2 years old now and the biggest, goofiest guy you will ever want to meet.
He gets along with every other dog he has ever met – even the dogs least likely to like other dogs will get along with Butch. He walks well on leash, plays nicely in the back yard at ARF (with other dogs or alone) and he is currently learning silly tricks like “sit in a box for fun.” So you can see here he is all ready to be someone’s holiday dog in his holiday box wearing his holiday antlers.
Butch enjoys nose games – looking for food, toys, or other scents in boxes. And more than anything else he loves being petted and snuggling up with any person who shows him affection.
For all his wonderful qualities, Butch – like Rudolph – keeps getting overlooked. Butch has Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a degenerative eye disease that will eventually take his sight completely. He currently seems to see some shadows in the daylight but has already lost most of his eyesight completely.
Just like Santa thought Rudolph with his red nose could not fly a sleigh too many people think a blind dog just can’t have a happy life. The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists says: “The exceptional senses of smell and hearing in animals also help pets adapt to vision loss.” Organizations like www.blinddogrescue.com and www.blinddogs.net have a host of great tips for living with a dog who is visually impaired and lists of other support organizations online to help folks help each other while living and loving an animal with special needs. Suggestions like:
- Teach your dog “new” things to make life even more fun! Try doing “clicker training” that fits in nicely with his/her new skills for* listening* vs. *seeing* and your dog will be very proud of new skills!
Vicky has been doing this with Butch at the shelter – that’s how she got him in the “gift” box and got him to wear the antlers – okay so he can’t see they are not on straight – but you got to give him his props.
Another few tips from www.blinddogs.net are:
- For eye protection when outdoors where there are low growing shrubs, twigs, etc. , Doggles can protect the eyes.
- Adding 1 – 2 feet outward of bark chips, mulch or landscape rocks around trees or other dangers in the yard will let your dog feel a texture difference on the ground to warn that something is ahead.
There are loads more suggestions on this and other web sites devoted to dogs with visual impairments – most are pretty simple like the mulch and some are pretty darn fun like the Doggles.
Butch has managed to map the back yard at ARF so he can go out and romp around with other dogs as if he had no issues. He will map your back yard too once he gets used to it. He walks happily and very well on a leash and loves to go for walks. Butch will probably never be safe off leash hiking – but he could go hiking on leash and have a blast.
There really is very little he won’t be able to do with you. While he won’t be able to look into your eyes with devotion you will still know he loves you when he leans up against you and rustles you with his thick soft fur.
I know what it is like to live with a dog who does not see well. Boo has struggled with his vision issues all his life and they have only gotten worse as he has grown older. His is a different disorder and has resulted in what seems to be very severe far-sightedness. He sees the outline of his brother well enough to happily chase him but does not see the door frame well enough to avoid bumping into it unless we guide him outside. It is a small price to pay for his companionship. The new stairs in the front have given him some pause lately but he simply reaches out with his front paw to find the height of the new step and then goes slowly to the next one. We are always right there near him to help if necessary – but the more he can do on his own the safer he will be and the more confident he will be. Boo has always gone and will continue to go on his visits to see the retired nuns and the kids at the library – I am just careful to guide him through the new environments. No one notices he can’t see well until I point it out to them.
Butch can live a fun, happy, fulfilled life with a human companion who is willing to do just a little more than the usual for him. Given all that Boo has given us and everyone he visits, I suspect anyone who gives a little extra to Butch will get back ten-fold and then some. Butch is currently living at ARF-Beacon, www.arfbeacon.org and is available for adoption.
Three Dogs Training will offer a special discount for either a private lesson or a training course for Butch and his new humans.