Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Blind and abused, but still going strong!

Many rescue dogs come with special needs, and more so when they are blind. One of the reasons we chose Blind Dog Rescue Alliance (BDRA) as our Animal Wellness Rescue of the Month for September was due to the heartbreaking thought of dogs who are not only blind, but have also been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Can you imagine being both blind and abused?

BDRA networks to find foster and forever homes for blind and visually impaired dogs throughout the United States and Canada. BDRA also has a sanctuary for dogs that do not find homes. Karen Belfi, one of the founders and president of BDRA, adopted her first blind dog back in 1999. He was up for adoption for 2 years, and no one was interested. He was gorgeous, and so sweet. She thought, how could people not want him, just because he couldn't see? He was born blind. Karen has since fostered 20 dogs through BDRA.

Eye problems can be an issue in many dogs, especially ones reaching old age. We often receive questions from readers about remedies for eye problems, and tips for helping their dogs cope with visual impairment. Some BDRA rescuers generously weighed in and have offered some great advice from their experiences of fostering and rescuing blind or visually impaired dogs.

The biggest challenge is training, since in addition to regular training, dogs also have to be taught how to find their way around. One tip is to teach the dog a “watch” command. They know to slow down and feel for an obstacle. "Step" is for stairs, a curb, etc. Other good verbal commands are “stop,” “forward,” and “wait.”

In houses with multiple dogs, putting noisy tags on all the dogs, so the blind ones can find the others is very helpful. A light tap on the nose to signal 'No' as well as citronella collars can help for training purposes, too. Sometimes people put scented dots on the floor that can lead to doors, etc., but these are not very effective with dogs that do not have keen noses. Stairs are not challenging for going up, but going down requires a dog to step off into space, and that is scary.

BDRA has many helpful tips on their website. If you’d like to donate to BDRA, they receive donations through their site. As well, Animal Wellness Magazine is donating 40% of subscription sales whenever anyone subscribes using promo code AWA149. Subscribe here to help BDRA and get a great magazine!

There was a constant thread in the emails we received from BDRA rescuers: blind and visually impaired dogs are more like other dogs than people think. They can be friendly with strangers, playful, calm, sweet, and al around terrific companions. Despite the challenges with training, blind dogs are, for the most part, the same as any other dog!

We partnered with some great companies who donated to our Rescue of the Month. Thank you to these companies for donating to BDRA with us! 

Be Pawsitive - A monthly box of organic dog treats that give back!

Wondercide Organics - Natural and organic solutions for pets, plants, and people!

Canine Omega3 (Ascenta Health) - Omega3 supplements!

1 comment:

  1. this is a great group! And I have a blind dog myself, Manny, who is an escape artist extraordinaire. Never thought a blind dog could escape almost every crate & kennel known to man? Neither did I until this boy came into my life.

    Blind dogs are amazing and this organization is as well!