Tag Archives: dogs

Jack’s cataract surgery: Lessons learned

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 Jack watching (!!) my cat Hubert 4 days post-cataract surgery. (Jack’s face is a bit pink because I’d just cleaned the area around his eyes)

Jack and I have been sidekicks for about 5 years, and I’ve always considered his adoption one of the best things I’ve ever done. He’s a sweet, affectionate little guy and an absolute joy.

Several years ago, I noticed Jack bump into the curb during a walk. That made me wonder about his visual acuity (he has juvenile cataracts), and our vet referred Jack to a veterinary ophthalmologist for evaluation. The ophthalmologist tested both eyes and found that Jack had a detached retina (along with a cataract in his left eye), and had lost all vision in that eye. He also had a cataract in his right eye but she felt surgery wasn’t indicated at that point. We’ve had yearly checkups with the ophthalmologist since then, to monitor his eye health.

Fast forward to this spring when Jack had recurring inflammation in his right eye. We went to the ophthalmologist to get it checked out. She felt cataract surgery would be helpful for Jack’s right eye, and he was scheduled for further testing to better examine his eyes. His right eye was confirmed as a good cataract surgery candidate, and we started on the pre-surgical medication regimen (eye drops). 

The period prior to surgery was a little stressful, since Jack has a lot of chronic health issues that can be challenging to manage. Thankfully, his overall health remained stable and we started the more intensive pre-surgery medication regimen on schedule last weekend. Jack was able to have cataract surgery earlier this week. 

I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of outcome. My hope was that cataract removal would significantly reduce the ongoing inflammation Jack had been having, and that some level of vision would be restored — he’s become fearful of sounds outside as he’s lost his sight. I was blown away on surgery day when the ophthalmologist’s office left a voicemail saying Jack was awake and alert, surgery had gone well, and when he awoke the ophthalmologist had determined he could see again in his right eye!

There was a minor complication during surgery which precluded insertion of an intraocular lens. Although I’d hoped for lens insertion to give him the best possible vision, the ophthalmologist explained that despite not getting a replacement lens, he’s able to focus very quickly and his vision seems very good. This feels like a great example of not allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. He can see again…!

We went back for our 1-day post-surgery recheck on Wednesday. Here were the results:

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We still have several weeks of post-surgery care (medication and rechecks) and I’m so glad he’s off to such a great start.

I am so grateful the surgery was able to restore Jack’s sight! I’d hoped it would help, and when we go out for walks now (post-surgery), I feel an overwhelming sense of wonder and gratitude that he can see again. Even our “quick” walks have become longer since Jack likes to stand and gaze at birds (and neighbors when they’re out). He’s noticeably more confident about approaching and interacting with neighbors… before his surgery, he’d want to visit with neighbors but seemed reticent as they’d walk closer to him.

I hadn’t expected the restoration of Jack’s vision to be such a profound experience but it’s truly been awe-inspiring to see how quickly it’s improved his quality of life.

While contemplating pursuing cataract surgery for Jack, I read several client stories online to get a better sense of their (and their dogs’) experiences. Reading their stories was helpful to me. I share Jack’s story in hopes that it’s useful to others contemplating cataract surgery for their dog.

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Book Review – Katie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a Family

Katie Up and Down the Hall The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a FamilyI ran across this lovely nonfiction book by Glenn Plaskin when browsing Amazon last Friday night. Little did I know, I’d find it so absorbing I’d stay up very late to finish it.

It’s a simple yet beautiful story about a single man who adopts a dog, although he’d been afraid of dogs as a child. Little by little, he learned how to care for and train the dog. He benefitted from coaching offered by his friends with dogs.

Through his dog’s interactions with others, this man built strong bonds with his neighbors. Neighbors who’d formerly been strangers became part of his extended family. When the author encountered some of life’s inevitable speed bumps, the love of his newfound family and little Katie helped him get through it.

I loved this book. It resonated strongly for me, and in many ways mirrored my jack_littleexperience with Jack. I have formed relationships with so many neighbors, and my neighborhood now offers a strong sense of community for me. I love how people enjoy interacting with Jack. And I get a lot more walks in than I had before!

I strongly recommend Glenn Plaskin’s Katie Up and Down the Hall: The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a Family, especially if you are a dog lover.

Adopt a dog and change your life (for the better)… October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

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A year ago this month, I crossed off an item on my bucket list and adopted a 2 year old toy poodle. He had some health problems but his most serious problem was that he needed a home.

Little did I know then, by adopting him my life would change forever (in a good way).

I’d never had a dog or even taken care of a dog before. I had always adopted cats. I was completely clueless! I had no idea how often he might need to go out, or how to tell if he wasn’t feeling well.

When I adopted Jack, he looked much older than a 2-year old dog. During our initial visit to the vet, I learned he had juvenile cataracts (breed-related) and severe allergies. Thankfully, we have a great vet who monitors Jack closely and helps me ensure he’s doing well. I’m also thankful for friends with dogs who helped me learn what I needed to know to give him a good home.

What I didn’t realize when I adopted him, was how great an impact he’d have on my life.

  • I now know *all* of the neighbors who live within several blocks of my house. Going out for walks with Jack daily has cultivated my sense of community. I’ve made some wonderful friends, and it’s so gratifying to see Jack connect with other people and dogs. He’s a sweet dog and people seem drawn to him.
  • When I get home, it’s always an event! The cats might sneer, but Jack is always thrilled to see me come in the door…. even if I only left 5 minutes before.
  • Because I adopted him as an adult, I had no “raising a puppy” issues. He was already house trained and understood how to tell me he needed to go out.
  • He is very sweet and also very smart. What a great combination! He learns quickly and is very affectionate.
  • It feels great knowing I gave a sweet dog a safe and loving home.
  • I gained a loyal friend. I never really understood why dogs were called “man’s best friend” until I bonded with Jack. Now, I know I’ll always have a dog in my life.

Don’t take my word for it. Go to your local shelter, rescue group or visit petfinder.com, and meet a new friend. He/she will change your life as well!

How I met my housemates (and how you can meet some, too!)

I live with three furry, affectionate little housemates: Nick, Lucy, and Hubert. All three were rescues: Two were adopted from a shelter, and one had been abandoned to spend the winter outside alone.

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I met Nick at a shelter in December 2000, a month after my beloved Siamese, Simone, was euthanized. Nick was a year old, energetic and very handsome. He has been living with me for 8 years and is a great “big brother” to our new kitty, Hubert, with whom he likes to romp & play.

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I met Lucy in mid-September 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Watching the horrific images of suffering on TV made me want to do something, anything, to make the world feel like a better, more positive place. So, I went to the Connecticut Humane Society. There were so many deserving pets, I wanted to take them all home! Lucy was a lovely but timid seven year old Maine Coon who clearly needed a quiet, loving home. She’s a sweetie and wants to give kisses to every human and feline she meets.

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I met Hubert in late November 2008. I wasn’t planning to adopt another pet but he’d been abandoned and the weather was beginning to get cold (in fact, it snowed the next day). So this sweet, little cat joined our household. He is very mellow and loves to chase around the house with Nick.

What does this mean to you, dear reader? When I adopted these three, I gained more than sweet, wonderful housemates (although I gained that in spades)! I was honored to give three very deserving homeless pets a safe, warm, loving home. That small but very meaningful act has benefitted not only Nick, Lucy, and Hubert, but has also benefitted me by providing the gratification of knowing that I’ve made the world a better place for them.

If you are planning to get a dog or cat, please adopt from a shelter.

(This post was inspired by a Pet Connection article about Maddie’s Fund partnering with the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Ad Council to encourage Americans to adopt cats and dogs from shelters.)