A Seeing-Eye Dog... For Another Dog?

05/01/2012

Dogs

Seeing-eye dogs are invaluable companions for many blind humans. But have you ever heard of a seeing-eye dog -- for another dog? Wait until you hear the inspiring story of these two inseparable canine companions.

Blair, a year-old black lab mix, and Tanner, a blind two-year-old golden retriever, were first introduced during a random play session at the Woodland West Animal Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Blair was originally brought to the hospital for a gunshot wound, which she received while living on the streets. Her troubled life had made her timid and nervous, and so she was ultimately retained by the clinic after they failed to find her an adequate adoptive family. Tanner, on the other hand, was brought to the clinic after his previous owner died. Tanner was not only born blind, but he suffers from a seizure disorder-- not uncommon for his breed. When seizing, he often evacuates his bowels, making him difficult to clean up after. So finding him a new home was also difficult.

"His seizure disorder was really, really bad and nothing — no medications — seemed to be helping," told Dr. Mike Jones, the hospital's director, to ABC News. "Anytime he [Tanner] seizes he expresses his bowels. It’s a nightmare anytime you have a 90-lb dog experiencing this nightly; it made living in a home very, very difficult."

Dr. Jones admits he had considered putting Tanner down several times due to the dog's tragic condition. That is, until that fateful day when Tanner met Blair.

After being introduced, the two dogs took an immediate liking to one another. Particularly inspiring was the assistance that Blair seemed so willing to provide for her blind friend, despite her otherwise timid nature. It was as if Blair intuitively knew from the beginning that her friend was blind.

"One day they were exercising in a play yard together and they got together," Jones said. "Blair all of a sudden seemed to realize that Tanner was blind and just started to help him around."

Blair frequently grabs Tanner's leash and leads him around the playground. Their friendship has also helped both dogs to recover from their ailments. Tanner is seizing less often, and with less force. Meanwhile, Blair has improved leaps and bounds with her behavior. The two have shown such improvement that hospital officials are now optimistic that a new home can be found for both of them-- together, of course.

"They absolutely have to be adopted together," Jones said. "But it’s going to take a special home with someone who understands their special relationship plus understands seizure disorder and is ready to take on the responsibility."

ABC News asked Dr. Jones whether he thought Blair actually knew that Tanner was blind. "I don't have any doubt," he responded.

"We’ve worked with a lot of different service dogs to provide these services for people, but it's the first time I've seen anything like this, the special relationship these two dogs have."

You can view the full ABC report here:


Follow fascinating, funny, tragic or otherwise compelling and timely stories about animals, as chosen by our editors and writers, including Daily Treat blogger, Janet McCulley.
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