Thursday, May 19, 2016

Living with S.A.R.D.S.


5 little words that changed our world. 
So as you know I went into unexpected labor 4 weeks early with Austin. We were released from the hospital on a Thursday and back the next Monday with jaundice. That in itself was crazy. A week and a half from when we came home the second time, Ted was back working like normal. And I was feeling good about everything so I decided to venture out to my moms. I handed Jake a treat before I left like usual and he seemed to not see me handing it to him but I chalked it up to the fact that he was half asleep on the couch. 

Fast forward to that evening. Ted had met me at my moms and we ate dinner together. When we got home, I let Jake out to potty and gave him a treat when he came back in. (He's spoiled. We know. It's worse now haha) This time I noticed something was wrong. This was the evening of Thursday April 31st. I yelled for Ted. I told him something was wrong with Jake. He was looking like, beyond me and above me. I held the treat and kinda waved it a bit and he didn't see me do any of it. I literally felt my insides fall to my feet. Ted called the vet that minute and they told us to bring him right in. Luckily they are literally 3 minutes away. Ted came back shortly after, in tears. He told me, and I quote "Dr. W says he's blind and we don't know why" that news just absolutely blew us away. Why? He just turned 6?! He's been healthy. He has all his shots? What did we do wrong? What IS this? Cataracts? Glaucoma? Brain tumor?!!?
When we took a closer look, we could totally see his eyes looked weird. Buggy, dialated and blue grayish. 

So he referred us to a canine opthamologist. Well, 2 different ones. I called the first and their next available appointment was 4/11. No. 
I called the next and got him an appointment for the next day. So we watched him carefully that night. Had him sleep between us in bed. And basically cried a bunch imagining what could possibly be wrong. Now keep in mind we have a 2 week old who just got over jaundice and was having a terrible time nursing from his mama. 
It was TOUGH.  

So we dropped Austin off to my mom who was on spring break from work. And we both went to bring him for his eye exam. I'm so thankful my mom helped us because we both wanted to be at that appointment and needed to hear the information. We met with the most amazing doctor at the vet hospital. He did a few tests. He had all sorts of contraptions that he wore to look deep into Jakes eyes. 
No cataracts. 
No glaucoma. 
So he said to us - well it's one of two things. He either has what we call SARDS or it's something neurological. 
The next step was a test for SARDS. At this point we researched EVERYTHING we could on this syndrome. It was scary. Total and complete blindness. 
No cure. No fix. Nothing. 
This WAS the lesser of the two evils. 

Wednesday 4/6. 
The test to confirm SARDS. 
Tuesday night I picked my brothers van up so I could get the baby and the blind dog from my house to my moms so she again could watch him while I took Jake. Ted was working and I was on my own for this one. Plus, they told me Jake would be heavily sedated and need to lay down on the ride home. 
In 30 minutes - we had the diagnosis. 
Jake was blind. 
We couldn't do anything. 
My heart broke. I fell apart in the car. He can't see?? 
That's it. Lights out. 
How awful. How sad for him. No more running on the beach off the leash. No more chasing squirrels in the backyard. No more head out the window in the car (at least not until we get doggles so his eyes don't dry - blind dogs eyes are more sensitive and wind isn't good) 
This wonderful vet told us not to worry and that he would adapt. 

"Just remember - you're his eyes now "

We had lots of advice given to us from the eye doc....
Move anything dangerous to him in his immediate environment.
Don't move his bed and food/water. Keep a radio or tv on in the area he spends most of his time in most so he can hear where his familiar spot is. 
Use clickers. 
Bang or tap on the door when he's in the backyard so he knows how to get inside. 
Get him an alert chain for his collar...
"My name is Jake, I am blind"
"Please call my mom or dad immediately if found xxx-xxxx"
Get squeaky toys to throw so he can still "fetch" 

Keep his dog bed covered in a scent he's familiar with when we're gone like a used shirt or blanket from our bed.
Talk to him more. 
Remind him that it's ok. 
Teach him new cue words...
"careful"  "easy"  "step up" 
Reward him a lot the first few weeks. 
Remind him how loved he is. 
And remember.....
It's harder on you than it is on him. He will adapt. He doesn't know this isn't supposed to happen. You do. You're gonna grieve. You're gonna miss your dogs vision. You're gonna be sad for him. He will adapt. 
He WILL adapt. 
He will be ok. 
It's been a tough pill to swallow. No doubt. We cried. And I know some people think "it's just a dog" blah blah but it's not that. He's our first baby. He's a helpless animal, he's our pet, he's a family member who relies on his humans. But the bar is higher now. We need to be his eyes. We need to help him 24/7 for a while. We can do it. 
We will do it.

And we are all adjusting great. I'm so thankful that I'm not working anymore and have the ability to be home with him so he's not alone. I've spent a lot of time teaching him new commands. He's really good with "careful" and "easy". If he's outside and about to walk into a tree or something, I say careful to him and he stops and turns his direction. I'm so proud of how well he's doing. It's hard when he's groggy. He knocks low things over. We got rid of our fire pit and our coffee table because he just couldn't manuver them. We're adjusting so it's easier for him and we're doing so well. He's our fur baby. And he's spoiled rotten and we love him so much. Sure it's a lot. Especially for this tired new mama. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Now our focus is on getting around as a family with him. Being in the back seat with the baby just does NOT work. He can't see him. It's not good. So we're getting a bigger car. A crossover SUV thing. Something lower than a SUV but roomier than a car and with a hatch. Just waiting for the perfect one. 
I'm very specific. :)

So that's our SARDS story. 
Thanks for reading about our Jakey Boy. 

Have a fantastic Thursday! 



  1. Oh Tiffany I am so sorry you had to go through this! Sounds like y'all are adjusting well though which is great!

  2. Sounds like everyone is adjusting to Jake's diagnosis~he's so lucky to be surrounding by your loving family