This handsome blind boy arrived in August from North Carolina. A nonprofit called the Shelter Dog Transport Alliance in Asheville had contacted us about Charlie and asked if we could take him. He had been staying with a wonderful foster named Ann Z. but needed a permanent home, and they didn’t want him to return to the shelter. The Alliance moves dogs from overcrowded southern shelters to humane societies and rescue groups in New England and Canada, often by flying them courtesy of private pilots who donate their time.
And that’s exactly how Charlie arrived! A dedicated volunteer pilot named Kley P. flew Charlie in to the Mount Washington Regional Airport, less than 30 minutes from here. This is Kley with Charlie after arriving:
Kley had made multiple stops that day since leaving North Carolina, and so far he had already delivered more than 20 dogs (a lot of puppies) to their destinations! So a big “thank you!” to Kley and the Shelter Dog Transport Alliance for their incredible work in giving so many dogs another chance at finding a loving home.
As you can see in the photo at the top, Charlie’s right eye is a small red orb and his left eye is all gray. The left one kinda sorta looked like glaucoma, but I checked his eye pressure on arrival and it was normal. Charlie was energetic and fearless … in other words, he acted like a dog who had been blind from birth and who didn’t know the world wasn’t dark.
We soon got the answers from our veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Sarah Hoy, in Burlington. The diagnosis for his left eye is a term I had never heard before: Anterior segment dysgenesis. In short, when he was in utero, the space between the cornea and iris never developed, so the iris is pressed right up against the cornea. In these cases the lens is often malformed or absent, and the retina is often malformed or detached as well. So there’s no surgical way to restore vision in that eye. However, he is at risk later for developing glaucoma in that eye, so we will have to monitor him for this disease.
His right eye was perplexing because it was all just pink flesh, though smaller than a normal eye. Well, I watched Dr. Hoy use a tiny pair of forceps to gently pull back the first layer of pink flesh, which turned out to be his third eyelid that had rotated up. Behind it was a pink ball, which turned out to be his tear gland that had also rotated up and out of position. And once she pulled the tear gland away, we could see a small eyeball in the back!
(Charlie was not sedated for this — it didn’t hurt at all — but it’s a testament to the kind of dog he is that he quietly sat there during the exploration without any fussing at all. I couldn’t believe how good he was.)
The upshot is that Charlie is blind in that eye from microphthalmia, meaning the eyeball had never developed normally. Again, no fix for that either. We’ve had plenty of dogs over the years who were blind from microphthalmia, but had never seen the tiny eyeball covered by third eyelids and tear glands, so this was new to us.
Thus the reason he acted like a dog who was blind from birth was because he had been born blind.
Charlie is a Red Bone hound, young — probably about 2, we think. He is incredibly sweet, eager to please, and very, very smart. His first couple of weeks here he was a bit of a handful because of all his youthful hound energy and all the stimulation of a new environment with lots of new friends. But he soon settled down and got into the groove. Charlie is a gentle, loving boy who is great with the other dogs.
Here he is with one of his favorite snuggle bug friends, blind Honey:
Really, you just can’t find a sweeter dog than this boy!
And then, on a Sunday morning in mid-September, we had four disabled Beagles arrive in one transport! Three came from shelters in Georgia, and the fourth from a Virginia shelter. They are all absolutely adorable. We will be introducing them on the blog in the coming months!