For us, it doesn't get any better than this. Another dog who came to us blind as a bat ... and now has his vision restored! Yes, Bentley the once-blind Yorkie is now Bentley the Yorkie who can see. And what a treat to watch him look at everything with wide-eyed wonder, taking it all in. His little tail just wags and wags now.
He had a series of veterinary appointments over the past two weeks, culminating in cataract surgery last Tuesday. I picked up Bentley and Scamp from our ophthalmologist, Dr. Sarah Hoy, on Wednesday and brought them back to the farm. (Scamp's surgery went well, too, and I will report on that in a subsequent blog post.)
As I mentioned in his arrival blog post, Bentley had originally been a "returned adoption" at the Longview, Texas shelter, and was given up for "health reasons." He was scheduled for euthanasia when Becky's Bridge, a Louisiana rescue group we've worked with for years, pulled him from the shelter and asked if we could take him. Peridontal disease, an oronasal fistula, skin problems, kennel cough, you name it, Bentley had it. The lady who fostered him, Stephanie S., took him to her vet for us and got all that cleared up, including oral surgery to close the fistula.
But we had also noticed when he took his photos for his arrival blog post that he reacted to the camera flash, as if he could see it. In the past, that's been a good clue as to whether a "blind" dog still had working retinas. So we scheduled a work-up with our internal medicine specialist in Burlington, Dr. Tanya Donovan, on the morning of Feb. 28, followed by a thorough eye exam by Dr. Hoy in the afternoon.
Because of the stiff, halting way he walked, Tanya wanted her colleague, our board-certified veterinary surgeon, Dr. Josie Mallinckrodt, to do a physical exam on Bentley. This is someone you haven't seen before on the blog, but Josie has done a number of surgeries for us in the past year, and she and Tanya work very closely on cases like this. Here is Josie examining Bentley:
She found he experienced some pain in his hips, his carpal joints, and particularly in his neck. She subsequently took X-rays of those areas while also ordering some additional tests with the bloodwork to rule out vector-borne causes like Lyme disease (he was negative). Josie gave us a treatment plan to address all his structural issues, and fortunately surgery is not necessary at this stage.
Next up was Tanya's ultrasound to look for any tumors, enlargements or other problems with his organs:
A major reason we do this is because we've had too many unpleasant "surprises" over the years, where a newly arrived senior dog seems otherwise healthy and yet we learn later that he or she had a tumor or other underlying problem that didn't show up in their initial bloodwork. In Bentley's case, given his medical history, we were already concerned about unknowns. But because we were also contemplating possible and very expensive cataract surgery, we wanted to make sure he was healthy enough to make that worthwhile.
Basically, everything checked out okay, which was a real relief.
Then it was off to the ophthalmologist for a look at those cloudy eyes. In this next photo Sarah is testing Bentley's pupillary light reflex while her vet tech Rachel holds him still. Sure enough -- just as we saw with the camera flash -- his pupils detected the light:
This is one of those medical processes where he has to pass every step along the way to be a candidate for cataract surgery, so I held my breath each time!
Then came an ultrasound of his eyes to see if his retinas were still completely attached:
And yes they were! Whew!
Finally, the big one -- the electroretinogram, or ERG, that tests retinal function:
This is the most nerve-wracking test, not only because it is the final determining factor, but because you have to wait for the waveforms to appear on the computer screen and then gradually take shape as the data comes in. There's a particular waveform at the very beginning of the graph that the ophthalmologist is looking for. It can take a while -- probably less than a minute or two, but it seems like an eternity to me -- for it to form.
When it first starts, it looks like he's going to fail ... but then it builds ... and builds:
(Click on photo for larger image.)
At long last, both eyes were done, the results were in, and Bentley was a candidate for cataract surgery!
That was on Thursday, and after starting him on pre-surgical eye meds on Monday, I took him back early on Tuesday morning and dropped him off with Sarah and her team.
After stocking up at the Costco in Burlington, I was on the way back to the farm when my phone rang. It was Sarah, calling to say the surgery had gone well, Bentley was awake from anesthesia, and he was standing up in his cage wagging his tail like crazy as he looked around the surgery suite.
That boy's been wagging his little tail ever since!
Shelter Challenge Contest -- Please Vote for the Farm!
The latest Shelter Challenge started Monday, January 7 and ends on April 28. Grand prize in this round is $10,000, $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place, plus $1,000 for weekly winners and $1,000 for state winners. There are also other categories ... please see the Shelter Challenge website for details.
*** You will find us listed as Rolling Dog Farm. The state is NH for New Hampshire. ***
Please remember, you can vote every day ... consider bookmarking the voting page to make it easy.
We just won $1,000 as a weekly winner in the current contest, and thousands more in the previous contests. The Shelter Challenge really does bring in a lot of money for the animals here!
You can vote in the Shelter Challenge here.
Thank you for your votes!