Life

The one-eyed dog.

11 March, 2013

Last week Miffy suddenly developed painful glaucoma in her right eye, leading to the necessary removal of the eye. I was absolutely shocked at this rapid unravelling of events as she simply woke up in pain and with a depressed demeanour where the night before she was full of play and fun. When the vet called to say Miffy’s eye would have to be removed (enucleation) I was absolutely horrified and blubbering on the phone to my dad who’d called just minutes after the vet enquiring as to how Miffy was.

“SHE HAS TO HAVE HER EYEBALL TAKEN OUT AND SHE HAS SUCH PRETTY EYES OH GOD”

Of course, pretty eyes don’t override the simple fact that one of them was causing her a great deal of pain due to the pressure that had built up behind it. We had a two options for surgery: removal of eye, insertion of an “orbital prosthesis” and the lid sutured clothed; and evisceration and intraocular prosthesis, where the inside of the eye is removed and replaced with a prosthetic ball so it moves like a regular eye but with no vision or pain. The second option was obviously more expensive but promised a less distressing result for humans to look at, and we initially thought we would go with this option but then came to the realisation that Miffy wouldn’t be able to see either way. Post operative care would also be far less expensive if the eye was sutured shut, not to be crass about money but it’s a very real factor; also the eye might be more prone to infection, another unpleasant complication for poor Miffy.

Glaucoma in shih-tzus is pretty common, and because she’s a cross breed (with bichon frise) it’s very likely Miffy’s other eye will succumb to glaucoma too. It’s really difficult for us humans to think about this and not project our trauma and pity on to our pets, but blind dogs can cope very well I’m told. With two eyes removed she won’t be winning any dog shows but if she requires a second enucleation she will still be able to live a great life.

I’m going to include photos just for other dog owners, because I did a lot of googling to find out about the enucleation and intraocular prosthesis and how it might look after the operation!

Miffy just before the operation. Her right eye is very swollen (and completely blind).

Miffy just before the operation. Her right eye is very swollen (and completely blind).


Miffy after her enucleation. Her "non eye" (as we've been calling it!) stained magenta due to whatever the vet put on it. Her E-collar gets in the way of cuddles. I just want to smoosh her!

Miffy after her enucleation. Her “non eye” (as we’ve been calling it!) stained magenta due to whatever the vet put on it. Her E-collar gets in the way of cuddles. I just want to smoosh her!

Five different designs of hand embroidered Girth Guide badges are now available: GG emblem, donut, pig, merbabe and burger.

Five different designs of hand embroidered Girth Guide badges are now available: GG emblem, donut, pig, merbabe and burger.

Obviously veterinary testing, consultations and procedures are ridiculously expensive and I need to thank my Mum for generously loaning us money to pay for the operation. If you’d like to buy something from my shop to support Miffy and help us pay Mum back, we’d be so appreciative. I’ve released my hand embroidered prototypes for Girth Guide badges to raise money for Miffy and there aren’t many of each so be quick!

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  • CM

    My cat was born with just one eye and people usually don’t notice until I mention it! Of course she’s all black and very squinty anyway. I’m glad Miffy is no longer in pain and she is just as cute as ever! I’d say even cuter but I do like my one eyed pets :)

  • She’s obviously just out of surgery in the second picture, but she still looks happier, so that has to be a relief. I’m really glad she’s doing okay now!

    A while back I contacted you through the contact form on Fancy Lady Industries about maybe selling me a larger version of the drawing you described thusly: “Watercolour and ink drawing of a fat white lady (me) in a ratty black bra and grey undies looking unsympathetic. Text says “Not for you.”” I’m guessing the reason you haven’t gotten back to me is that what I asked for could be considered custom work and you’ve stated that you don’t do that. I just thought I’d mention it again on the off chance you’d reconsider. I don’t know if it will make a difference, but I have previousy bought two fat necklaces, eight copies of Pance, six fat stickers and an Ugly Femme Pride iphone cover from you.

  • Fluffy Cat

    I volunteer at an animal shelter, and it’s very common to see a lot of pets (especially cats) with one eye for various reasons. They end up adjusting very well to it, and it doesn’t cause any issues (and sometimes they get adopted quicker b/c of the unique or sympathy factor). Hope Miffy is feeling back to her old self soon. On the plus side, if you ever wanted to dress her like a pirate, here is your chance!

  • Jackie Brown

    Oh know, we have a shih-tzus and bichon puppy, she is not quite 2 yet so will remember that for when she gets older… what a beautiful dog :)

  • Hey Veronica, thanks for your support. I have been atrocious at keeping up with my messages over the last six months with various family stuff going on. The original drawing you’re talking about is about A5 size, did you want a larger print? That’s something I can arrange given a bit of time! I am still really hesitant about taking on commissions because I’m not comfortable with it right now :(

  • mcchupachup

    Merbabe badge ordered! :D I hope Miffy gets back to her happy self in no time, and also wish you the best too!

  • Bagfish

    Hi Natalie, I haven’t commented on your blog before, but have followed it for ages. I just wanted to send good thoughts to you and Miffy, and hope that she’s feeling better and is on the mend. As a dog owner I know that it hurts me when my dogs get sick, and I just wanted to send my sympathies yours and Miffy’s way!

  • Many years ago (many, many years ago) I mentioned to my Mom that her chow had an odd looking eye. She dismissed it as her dog being “old” and left it alone. In that time she bit two people who got near that side and I can’t imagine how painful it was for her. One day 2 years later is started to bleed and ooze. My Mom rushed her to the vet where they found a giant tumor behind the eye. They removed it and the dog happily lived with one eye for many more years.

    I’m sorry that your dog was hurting. I know how painful that can be. You want to help them right away but you don’t really know how. And you know if they are saying something hurts, that it must hurt really bad. *Hugs* I hope she is feeling better now that her surgery is complete. I’m sure you will notice her being more playful and back to “acting like a puppy”.

  • Hey Natalie, I don’t know how it happened, but I didn’t see this comment until now. I really hope this offer still stands!! I was thinking a size somewhere between A5 and A4. Maybe you could come up with an approprate, more specific suggestion, and I’ll let you know? About the price, why don’t you let me know what you’re thinking, and I’m sure we can work it out.

  • Joyce Aitchison

    Hi Loved reading your story – my dog Jock a wired haired fox terrier – has been treated by the vet for his eye – and today he had his left eye removed along with a growth on his right leg – he is at the moment over night at the vets – he is such a lovely dog and the change in him was so rapid – I hope after having this done he has a good quality of life – and we can get back to going on our walks – I do miss his cannot wait to get him home.