paranoid_android (Forum Forumer)
paranoid_android (Forum Forumer) UberDork
12/25/20 9:36 p.m.

We have two dogs.  One of them- Nessie- is our two year old Great Pyrenees.  Two days ago we took her into the emergency vet because she was having trouble seeing.

They said she had a double retinal detachment.  So now we're trying to figure out how to be people that can help her learn to live without vision.

I know there are folks here that have experience with dogs without vision so I'm hoping they can offer some pointers.


thedoc HalfDork
12/25/20 9:41 p.m.

My dog slowly lost her Sight.  We just handled what came up, moved a few things that were in her way, etc.  She did really well and remained happy and comfortable.  Good luck, it won't be as bad as you think.

JohnInKansas SuperDork
12/25/20 9:48 p.m.

My wife trains working and service dogs for a living and for the state. Her suggestion is get her started in FitPaws-type training (you don't need the brand-specific equipment, necessarily, just the training). Videos on YouTube. Ought to help her learn to use her body to help find and manipulate things.

Shoot me a PM if you want, she's intrigued by the challenge and would be glad to give you some help.

Mr_Asa SuperDork
12/25/20 9:55 p.m.

I've seen a video of a Chihuahua running around with a harness on that has a bumper that extends around the zone where the dog's head would go.  Chihuahua uses that to "see" by bumping the bumper into things.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/25/20 10:03 p.m.

As long as she hears well, she will navigate pretty well.  We might not think of it, but we use it too.  There is always a little ambient noise in the air and when we're navigating a dark hallway, our brain kinda hears a wall getting closer.  After a while of blindness, her hearing will be more tuned in to that phenomenon.

Another thing you can do is use varying floor surfaces, like maybe a wool runner in the hallway, a soft area rug in the dining room.  Her sense of touch will get used to the different surfaces and help her navigate.

Their noses are also awesome.  Find some things that smell, like essential oils, colognes, murphy's oil soap, olive oil, whatever.  Use a tiny bit of (for instance) patchouli oil on the four corners of the couch.  Olive oil on all the wall corners.  Some of that Old Spice aftershave your coworker got you last year on the legs of the dining room table.  We're talking about just tiny amounts so your whole house doesn't reek of a mixture of lavender, lemon, and Chanel no. 5.  You won't smell it, but their noses will light up like a walmart parking lot when they get close to it and warn them to not hit it while also reminding them that the scent associated with coconut oil means that she's in the bathroom.

Give her things to heighten her other senses so she can make new associations that don't require her eyes. (oh, and be sure to write down what you put where because you'll want to refresh it periodically.

If you find that she consistently runs into one particular thing, you can try a little more smelly stuff or using something that makes noise, like a little clamp-on fan.  This is also really handy if you decide to redecorate, buy a bigger couch, or move things around.  If you get a new dining room table, re-scent it.  If she runs into it, just put a little fan on the offending leg blowing out for a few days.  She'll figure it out.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) UberDork
12/25/20 10:09 p.m.

If I can offer a bit of encouragement for you. 

Dogs are remarkably good at adapting. When I started my ophthalmology rotation, one of the first things I was told is that often the family doesn't know that the dog is blind until they move the furniture. 

I'm sorry to hear about this, but Nessie is a young dog, and I expect that she's going to learn to compensate pretty quickly. Good luck.  

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/25/20 10:11 p.m.

My bestie's dog is now almost fully blind.  His blindness was pretty gradual so he learned as he progressed into sightlessness without much headache.  He's also so old and slow that anything he runs into is at such a slow speed it's not harmful.  He's also about 70% deaf.

I would also pay attention to your Pyrenees' demeanor.  By that, I mean look for how she acts.  Is she still happy, or is she frustrated and just laying down and not trying?  Does she still have the same excitement at dinner time?  My bestie's blind dog is purely blissful.  He has no care in the world that he can't see, but when she sold her old house and downsized to a new location, he was depressed for a while until he learned the layout.  Now he's fantastic.  Happy as a clam.  9 times out of 10 when he bops his nose into something, he does that playful bow where he drops his front legs and suddenly wants to play with something like a coffee table.  It's a hoot.  He's happy, we laugh at him.

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/25/20 10:37 p.m.

At least the Great Pyrenees is a very trainable and obedient breed, that should help in this. 

In all seriousness, I would first get a second opinion for something like this - not that I think the first was wrong, just because it seems important - I would just ask if there is another vet at the practice that could lend an opinion. 

I would also reach out to some Great Pyrenees Facebook groups and ask their advice. Someone there has probably dealt with it, and they're such a unique breed that I'd want first hand accounts of it. 

dxman92 Dork
12/26/20 12:36 a.m.

Not a dog but the in-laws have a fully blind cat and it gets around just as well as the cats with normal vision. It just uses senses of smell and sound to get around.

Justjim75 Dork
12/26/20 1:13 a.m.

The biggest thing is to be consistent with where you put stuff in the house.  Stuff like having the attic stairs down in the hallway can mess them up.  If their surroundings don't change too much too fast the only time they can't "see" is when they don't want to go out when its pouring rain 

ddavidv PowerDork
12/26/20 7:10 a.m.

Good friend had a Jack Russel that suffered the same malady. The dog adapted very quickly to the lack of vision and could still handily launch himself onto the couch as required.  Unlike humans, dogs 'live in the moment' and don't do the self-pity thing, they just adapt.

paranoid_android (Forum Forumer)
paranoid_android (Forum Forumer) UberDork
12/26/20 9:27 a.m.

All great input so far, thank you so much!

@floating doc- reading your message was comforting, as it confirmed my suspicion that something had been going on and we simply didn't know until she couldn't see any more.

The vet at the ER mentioned the retinas are one problem, but a healthy dog at her age probably has an underlying condition that led to that.  We have an appointment with our regular vet to follow up for testing.

Our biggest challenge seems to be helping her outside and back in the house.  There are a couple steps involved- one to the back door and two off the deck to get to the yard.    And with snow on the ground they are slippery, so she's a bit spooked by the ordeal.

We've just been offering her encouragement and letting her move at her pace.


mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/26/20 10:09 a.m.

Does she still bark at dogs walking past, strollers, falling leaves, ninjas, deliver drivers, pirates, cats, ninjas, and ninjas even though she can't see them? Because our 13 year old partially blind Pyr does, whether he sees them or not. 


paranoid_android (Forum Forumer)
paranoid_android (Forum Forumer) UberDork
12/26/20 10:28 a.m.
mtn (Forum Supporter) said:

Does she still bark at dogs walking past, strollers, falling leaves, ninjas, deliver drivers, pirates, cats, ninjas, and ninjas even though she can't see them? Because our 13 year old partially blind Pyr does, whether he sees them or not. 


Omg, it never occurred to me she was barking at ninjas!  We always figured she was barking at some persistent nebulous threat only she could sense.  Of course it was the ninjas.

Yes she does still bark at them.  Probably why we've never seen one wink

Justjim75 Dork
12/27/20 1:08 p.m.

Cats and ninjas are easy, at my house we have ninja cats!

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