Houla successfully went through surgery today. I haven't seen her yet - my veterinarian thought it best to keep her overnight, because she was still groggy from sedation. Since she has such huge separation anxiety, as much as I wanted to go see her after work, I knew it would be better for her if I did not visit, because I would have to leave her again. So I am at home, waiting for morning, when I will pick her up, smother her with love and kisses, and bring her with me to work to be a pampered, special dog for the day.
Her right eye appears to be completely normal, which means that although she has lost one eye, she has not lost her sight.
When I brought her to a Santa Rosa ophthalmologist on Monday afternoon, for a check-up prior to surgery, I was still struggling with the fear that she could go blind. I was having a hard time dealing with the enormity of that, worrying about how she could possibly survive, unassisted, in our home during the day when we were at work. It seemed insurmountable.
In the lobby, there was a book: Living with Blind Dogs: A Resource Book and Training Guide for the Owners of Blind and Low-Vision Dogs. I began to page through it as we waited for our names to be called. I had no idea that such a book existed. There was a section on grief, on readjustment. There were tips on training, on how to use things like scent trails (applying a fragrance like lavender) to indicate paths to the dog door, or tactile trails, like rug strips. There was information on how to reintegrate the blind dog into your home "pack," supporting her previous alpha role (as in Houla's case). There were even wonderful stories about other dogs becoming guide dogs, so that the blind dog may stand out in the yard and bark when she's ready to come in, and the sighted dog goes to get her, and leads her into the house. And also, ways to reformat "play," so even a blind dog can continue to fetch balls.
I felt an immediate and huge sense of relief within moments after opening the book. I had a sense, suddenly, that this was doable. That we could meet this challenge, even in the worst-case scenario.
It was like the discovery of sangha, community. A sangha of low-vision/blind dogs and the people who love them.
Add to that my already-existing sangha, the friends who have e-mailed and called and offered support over the past few days....and I feel very lucky indeed.
My deepest thanks.