The Soul of a Silver DogPosted: August 17, 2007
This photo of Panchen was taken at my house after he was blinded by glaucoma.
Not in the original group of ten Gompa dogs delivered to my doorstep, Panchen came to me in the spring of 2005. By late summer visible signs of his glaucoma manifested and in September he underwent surgery by veterinary opthamologist Dr. Todd Hammond. A normal eye has a continuous exchange of fluid; fluid enters the eye and then leaves the eye. The ductwork that allows the fluid to leave the eye deteriorates with glaucoma, creating an abnormal buildup of fluid in the eyeball. It is very painful and causes severe headaches. Glaucoma in people is usually caught in time; medication can help move the fluid in and out of the eyeball.
Dr. Hammond asked me if Panchen had headaches. But, how does a dog tell you about headaches? There were several surgical alternatives, including removal of the eyes and prothestics. I selected what seemed the least invasive. Dr. Hammond, using very, very small needles, damaged the ductwork that allows fluid into the eye. Panchen felt immediate relief. This I *could* tell! The following morning, he greeted me with his Good Morning Dance, something I hadn’t seen in months.
It had been my intention that Panchen live the rest of his life here, with his clan. When he arrived, there was recognition between Katu, Drepung and Panchen. Having the group spend their remaining years together seemed right. Panchen’s loss of vision changed that. Dogs are masters when it comes to reading body language. Panchen had lost this ability.
At first, it didn’t seem to alter his lifestyle. He went out with the males, sniffing each and every tree, enjoying the sunshine. An onlooker wouldn’t have been able to tell he was blind. He danced for a treat held in front of his nose. He came and went with the group. He navigated extremely well, using both knowledge of what was there, along with not being afraid to ‘keep on trying’ if he came to a barrier. He seemed happy.
The problem was, the other dogs didn’t understand he was blind. If he’d accidentally walk into them, the action was interpreted incorrectly. The other dogs would just grumble at him until one day one of them had had enough and told Panchen, in no uncertain terms, his actions weren’t acceptable. I felt sad for Panny. He no longer wanted to go out with his friends, instead choosing to use the indoor/outdoor runs. He became a loner, choosing the safety of his dog bed, rather than interacting with his buddies.
So, I asked Gail if she would consider letting him live his final years with her. And was so grateful she agreed. You can see more photos and read Gail’s posts about him here.
When I saw this book title, I thought of Gail and Panchen. She had told me he’s her Soul Dog. This book is about a young woman – a teen-ager, to be exact – that adopts a former Champion Bedlington Terrier, now ‘useless’ due to glaucoma. Together, they learn, among many life lessons, to do agility!
Here’s Gail’s note:
When I opened the book, I said, “I love children’s books!” and then I read your note….Thank you Debby. It looks wonderful.The only movies I enjoy any more are either about dogs or horses….My shih-tzu had pneumonia last week…3 kinds of antibiotics…and lots of home cooking and watchfulness.. Panchen slept with me in bed….B sleeps in a little donut bed in the middle of Bruce and me because I don’t want some other dog stepping on him in the middle of the night…I did want to ask you…a tech question. I wipe Panchen’s eyes out with wet cotton pads now to avoid any matter sitting in there….It looks like I should do this every morning to avoid problems…You don’t trim eye hair, do you? When he was groomed by K.C., she left his face hair long like I asked her to protect his eyes…but I could see where it might get problematic…If you want to put this in the blog, its ok…or in the gallery…. or nowhere…
🙂 I thought it belonged on the blog!