Dog uses other senses to live life since losing eyes

Scully with owner Nicole Paprotny. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Scully with owner Nicole Paprotny. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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LIKE all dogs, Scully loves chasing and retrieving toys, and enjoying long walks in the countryside.

He gets excited when owner Nicole Paprotny puts her jacket on and grabs his lead to take him for a walk, and races to greet family members on their return home from work.

Yet, for the past two years, Scully has been completely blind since having both eyes removed.

The 12-year-old Labrador/ Boxer cross suffered from a painful condition known as dry eye, caused by the inadequate production of tears, where the eyes of affected pets become dry, red, inflamed, sensitive and extremely painful.

Attempts to treat the condition, including an operation to direct salivary glands to his eyes to lubricate them, failed, and Scully had his left eye removed in August 2015.

Just two months later, Nicole faced the agonising decision whether to have his right eye removed, leaving him completely blind, or have him put to sleep.

Nicole, a veterinary nurse at Dunedin Vets in East Lothian, wanted to save her pet – and Scully hasn’t allowed being blind destroy his zest for life.

He is able to do everything he did before tragedy struck as he relies on his other senses, including hearing and smelling, and lives life to the full.

Nicole, who lives in Tranent, said: “Scully quickly adapted to life without his sight. Within two weeks he was playing fetch as he listens to where his toy drops on the ground and goes to pick it up.

“He can find his feed and water bowls as he knows precisely where they are through smell. He comfortably navigates his way around the house as he senses where obstacles are. When we go to meet my mum from the bus, he can pick her out even if there are other people around.

“All his other senses were strengthened after he lost his sight. He can even tell when I’m putting my jacket on to take him for a walk and gets excited.”

Nicole bought Scully a special harness, with the words “Blind Dog” on, to alert passers-by, and vets and fellow veterinary nurses at Dunedin Vets in Tranent, where she has worked for 12 years, have been a great support to her and her pet.

“He was absolutely fine until 2015, but he started getting sleep in the corner of his eyes and then conjunctivitis,” she said.

“Within the space of a week he stopped producing tears and various eye drops to correct the problem failed. He had to go to a specialist in Edinburgh.

“He was in agony because his eyes were so dry, and he had to have drops every hour.

“It crossed my mind that I might lose him. The choice was to make him completely blind, or we would have to put him to sleep on humane grounds as he was constantly in pain.

“I was exhausting all the options and it was very hard for him and for me as he is a much-loved pet.

“I’m so pleased I took the decision I did as he is so happy. He loves going for walks and enjoys a great quality of life.”

July marks the first Veterinary Dry Eye Awareness Month to highlight the condition, which affects around 375,000 dogs in the UK. With an early diagnosis, treatment can have a significant impact on prognosis.