Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's All About the Eyes

Today was Ray's annual eye appointment. I wasn't really expecting any changes but one can't take anything for granted with a blind dog.
The doctor walked into the office, looked at Ray and smiled.
"He looks like he's looking right at you," she said, "It's pretty amazing. But dogs compensate so well with their sense of smell."
"Well, I know he can see something out of his right eye," I replied, "But not anything low. He trips over stuff all the time."
"That's because the retina in that eye is flopped over," said the doctor. "So the top part is folded over the bottom part."
She peered into Ray's right eye with her scope. Ray lay passively flopped out on the floor.
"He's still light sensitive," she said flashing the light into his eye, "Look at how his pupil dilates."
"I know you can see something," she said to Ray, "But I really don't know how. But I guess I don't have to know, do I Ray? As long as you know."
The doctor stood up and turned toward me, "Can I have his eyes when he dies? How old is he?" she turned to check his file.
"He's three," I replied, slightly stunned. I wasn't sure how I felt about someone taking Ray's eyes when he died.
"Oh," she said, "Then it won't be for a long time."
"Well, if he runs into the rock at the dog park again it might be sooner than you think," I replied.
The doctor was checking Ray's eye pressure. "The pressure is up in his left eye. It's over 30. It should be in the teens. I'll prescribe some drops. You'll need to give them to him once a day. If you notice him rubbing his eye or if it's weepy you should up it to twice a day. I think he's probably a pretty tough dog so don't wait to see me to get the OK, just do it, and come in when you can to get him rechecked. But definitely come back in 3 - 4 months. He's getting a cataract in that eye, so it might turn totally white."
Ray was stretched out on the floor. Still totally relaxed. The only thing moving were his eyebrows.
"Ray, you are such a good dog. Do you want a treat?" asked the doctor.
At the word treat, Ray's head lifted from the floor. The doctor wedged a little dog biscuit between Ray's teeth. Ray just lay there with it sticking out of the corner of his mouth. I laughed. I knew what was coming next.
Without moving his head, Ray let the vile thing drop from his jaws and onto the linoleum. The doctor shook her head and smiled
I paid my bill, collected Ray's drops, and left.
On the drive home, all I could think about was donating Ray's eyes to science. I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I'm still not.


  1. Well, that doctor certainly gets a great big "F" in bedside manner!

  2. Truthfully, I didn't mind that she asked. I appreciated her frankness and the fact that she thinks Ray's eyes might be a help. And Ray is such a helpful dog, I'm sure he'd be amenable. I guess it's just having to think about Ray being gone that makes it difficult.

  3. Nothing to say, except "dear Ray"...

  4. I think it was ill timed to ask for a dogs eyes when he is in the prime of his life. She knows how old he is, she has his chart. I worked as a certified vet tech for years and would have been appalled if a vet I worked for asked something like that. Plus there is the eww-yucky factor. Wether or not they are sighted or not as long as Ray is comfortabe with them and they dont hurt him they are his eyes.

  5. I don't know. Is it better or worse to ask for a dogs eyes when he's young or old? Is there EVER a GOOD time? It's not like she wants to remove them NOW. She wants them after he's done with them.
    Truthfully, I like this vet. She's very good at what she does and she obviously cares enough about animals that she wants to know everything she can. I would love it if Ray's eyes could help another blind dog in some way. There may have been a better way to ask but I don't know what it was. I appreciate the awkwardness of the situation and her cluelessness (being an awkward, clueless person myself.) So we'll see. Hopefully it won't come up for a long time.