Questions & Answers
Cyndi Cunico copyright ŠAussieLads Lethal White Aussie Rescue 2000 - 2005 www.aussielads.com All contents of this website is the property of aussielads.com.
During her time with AussieLads, Lorraine had received many emails with various questions about Lethal Whites. Listed below are some of the emails, along with Lorraine's responses.
Disclaimer: All content is provided solely to relate information obtained from experience, research and theories from the members of our organization and should NOT be considered a means of diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your Veterinarian/Ophthalmologist for all health, as well as behavioral issues (may be due to a medical problem). For pets with serious behavioral issues, please consult a professional for advice.
I have 2 lethal white sisters, one totally healthy normal, her sister got the full bag, deaf ( at least partially) and blind- she has no eye ball in one socket and one that is too small for the socket in the other, the vet said she might see shadows but the third eye lid in partially covering that eye. But she is highly intelligent, confident dog. Loves a leash, though we rarely have use for them in our big yard.
Here's my problem. Because I saved them from a shelter when they were 6 weeks old, they both imprinted on me and now they are more frequently having fights Big Ones not over food, toys but we think over me, or which will be the dominate after me, there's no doubt when I raise me voice whose number one. I have degenerative nerve damage and was injured trying to brake them up and my husband has had it, either things change or you may end up trying to find separate homes for one of my girls because of my safety. Do you have any behavior modification techniques or ideas that will help stop the fights before one of them ends up at the vets or me in the hospital?
Also Corrie ( Mi Corizon- my heart) cleans and licks herself like she is a cat and smacks her lips allot, I have tried holding her nose to make her stop, but then she seems to have to lick where I was making it worse. One of them is a midnight chewer toys don't work we can't seem to catch the culprit but they got my cell phone last night--my husband is livid. How do I try to catch the chewer? They are too intelligent they won't chew on anything in the day or if some one is awake, verrrry sneaky my babies are!! But destructive and expensive two things a spouse won't have.
I love my dogs I am handicapped and at the time I saw the these 2 I knew, no one would take both and Corrie needed Jezebel for security at that time, the shelter wanted them to go together or put down for health concerns, I had been recovering from a relapse and I saw myself in these pups. No one thought to put me down for my own good... how was my life different from theirs? Some how I knew that if Corrie could thrive I would too. So far so good.
Share this with any and every one you can I need to help my dogs and I don't know how. It is not their fault I don't know how to teach them to stop fighting, smacking their lips or chewing at night. Thank you for what you are doing for these very beautiful animals. I hope you can help me find the recourses to help mine. Kimberly Freitag Milton Fl. 32583
I'm sorry to hear your girls are having dominance issues over you! I had this problem with my Queen B, Corey (Corinne) who I raised from 3 days old, and my BC, Josie. It started out small, and then the fights got worse. They were always started by Corey.....most of the problem is she didn't learn to interact with other puppies when growing up, so really didn't learn the doggy manners she should have. When they were in the house and we were all gone, they would knock down the baby gate separating them, and there were never any issues, so their problem was me. I did start doing things together with them like walks, which took the edge off a bit, but at night, I kenneled Jo in the bedroom while Corey slept on the bed (this prevented 3 am in morning fights). My only solution was to keep them separated via a baby gate, unless we were going out to do something together. Does one seem to always start the fight, and the other just doesn't back down?
Some things you might try are watching for the "attitude" between them and then squirt them both. with a spray bottle of water. You can also separate and kennel both of them for a cool-down time of 15 to 20 minutes or so if they are getting to point where you can tell a fight may break out. You might also try taking both of them to basic obedience school with a trainer that is willing to work with special needs dogs.
As for Corrie licking herself, she may very well have some allergies, and you should check with your vet about this. You may have to try changing her food. I found that my Corey (who had some allergies) was also allergic to the choke collar we used for obedience.....it used to really itch her neck. First we used some allergy shots, which only worked for about the first year. By changing her diet to a high grade dog food (we used Precise for many years and just changed to Canidae this year...for weight loss). Both these dog foods are preserved with natural ingredients also. There are also other quality dog foods you can try that may help.
One of my partners, Deana may have some other input for you as she has worked many years with her Maggie to resolve her allergies.
If the allergies are seasonal (spring and fall) they can be controlled with some Benadryl once a day. This has no ill effects and will ease the itch. I would recommend against giving cortisone for more than a few weeks, as this is bad for the liver if they are kept on it constantly. You might also want to try working with a holistic vet, if you are not getting solutions from your regular vet.
The chewing at night can be resolved by limiting their sleeping area (like keeping them confined to your bedroom with a baby gate) and removing anything within puppy reach. It is just a fact of life that pups chew and will eventually outgrow it, so it is YOUR and your HUSBAND'S responsibility to pick up stuff, like the cell phone and put it out of their reach! BTW, the battery in the cell phone is bad news and you don't want them chewing and swallowing that as it could be fatal! You might also kennel them separately in open wire kennels for the night. Make sure you add some toys and chewies for them too. I have done this with all my foster babies, and not until they are 5 or 6 months old do I even consider leaving them loose at night. Many families kennel their dogs at night all the time, and the dogs do just fine. Please do let me know how the girls are doing!
Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
We recently (3 days ago) adopted a 7mo old male lethal, We also have a 20mo old Lab male - I am having difficulty getting them to stop playing - it get pretty rough and I don't want either dog hurt. I am looking for some advice as to how best to integrate my Aussie with our Lab. Also the circling behavior you mentioned is excessive with him at this time and I assume its because he has been put in a new environment and is still not comfortable. It is very difficult to stop him at this point and I am scared it will become obsessive - he was in foster for 4 months prior to us taking him in. I have been through your website and find it very informative - any additional input you might add would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Eric, Congrads on your new family member, and a special thanks for adopting a lethal into your heart and home!
Ok, with that said you have a few things going on. You have only had this boy 3 days, and of course he is your typical young active Aussie. It may have been a long time since he had a friend to play with, or perhaps he never had one! So now he is so excited and happy, he is going to expend all that pent up energy! Also you have, for all purposes, two teenage boys (think back when you were a teenager....)!
What you need to do when the going gets too rough, is to stop them! It is ok to make them both take a time-out from too much rough-housing! Depending on the situation, you may either just tell them both to stop and make them pay attention, or you can separate them temporarily, either by kenneling (make sure your Aussie is ok with this, as some of them stress out in kennels) or separate rooms or such. Since you have only had your Aussie 3 days, he doesn't know the house rules, and the only training he probably had was in his foster home. Your basic assessment is right.....he is in a new home and needs to settle in. He does need a gentle but firm hand in this.
You don't say if he is deaf, blind or both, but you will need to teach him voice, sign or touch commands to let him know the rules. His foster home should have shared their commands with you. You will need to find what commands you would like to use, and then keep them consistent between ALL family members. He will need some time to learn, and being consistent is the best thing to help him out. And of course always a sign for "good boy" followed by a treat! You might also want to consider a basic obedience course with him (with an instructor willing to work with his special needs) after he settles into your house routine. This is a good bonding opportunity and also gives both of you some training!
The circling is going on for exactly the reason you said...new environment. Now he is unsure of himself and a bit stressed out, so he is reverting back to this habit. Find out if he did this in his foster home, and also ask what they did to stop it. This will give you a base behavior to work from. You need to stop the circling ASAP when you can see it going on. Stop him and take him gently by his collar and bring him to where you are. Then give him a toy or treat to redirect his behavior, and just let him hang out with you for a while. The important part about this is to STOP the behavior and REDIRECT it to something positive, like some play time (throw a ball) or maybe take him on a short walk with you.
When my Toes did this, I just made her hang out with me, and then she'd find one of the other dogs to play with or something to chew on. The more often you stop and re-direct right away, the faster the behavior will lessen. Due to his age, it may take a bit longer than it would with a younger pup because it has had some time to "feed on itself" which is exactly what this behavior does. Please remember, even after you have resolved it, in some cases, it may happen again during a stressful time.
When my Toes gets excited and is being a "happy head", she will run around the yard in very large circles and bark. Because the circles are large and she changes directions, I do not consider this the OCD circling behavior. She actually uses it to find the other dogs, as she is at least 90% blind. However if she is going on and on and on with this, I simply grab her collar and bring her into the house.....in other words, enough!
You might also want to try a little Rescue Remedy for both the boys. Rescue Remedy is a flower herbal remedy that has a calming effect. A couple of drops on the tongue (or on a treat to be consumed), or about 4 to 5 drops in the water bowl will help. This will not drug the dog, but will just takes the edge off. You can get at any health food store or you could even order on line. It is distributed/made by Bach Flower Remedies.
Would love to hear updates from you on how this boy is doing. In two to three weeks, you will probably see a different dog emerge. In a year from now people will be asking you where you found that perfect dog! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
My name is Roberta, I have written before. I own a lethal white name Splintboot. We are from Cortland,Oh.
My problem is, I have been in the hospital almost all spring and summer. I and up going in for a week at a time. Splintboot then has to be crated most of the day, due to my room mate working. Then when I come home from the hospital, he is very protective over me. Because of my illness, I am home with him all day.
He is total deaf and partial blind. He goes by hand signals and touch.
When people come to visit he will jump up on the bed, due to me having to stay in the down stairs livingroom. He will bark and jump to stay between me and them.
I have tried tying him up but he will bark and work him self up. And he has this annoying bark. Any ideas? I still have one more surgery to go.
Thank you! Roberta Lewis & Splintboot Cortland, Ohio
Hi Roberta, It is nice to hear from you and Splintboot again. Sorry to hear you are not feeling well and hope you have a quick recovery from your final surgery.
Does Splintboot know a sign that means "its ok"? I have a sign for my Hope for this because she does not really like meeting new people and strangers. I just use the "ok" sign, you know your thumb and first finger form a circle and your other fingers straight up.
What you need to do is make sure when you know you will have visitors, that Splintboot is off the bed. This is an alpha position, and it will make him more protective of you. You should make him sit and stay by the side of your bed. Have your visitor approach slowly and using your "it's ok" sign, allow Splintboot to smell and acknowledge the person. Having your visitor give some bisquits helps also. If he will not sit and stay just on your command, you should have his leash handy. When a visitor is going to come over, make sure he is off the bed and on a sit/stay. Have him on a leash and have the leash in your hand. This way you can reinforce the sit/stay. Then use the same approach, with visitor approaching slowly while you let Splintboot know this person is ok. Make sure to reward him for good behavior!
If you may have some physical limitations at this time, you should have Splintboot's kennel next to your bed. Then when you know you will have a visitor, put Splintboot in his kennel, but use the same commands of sit/stay and then let him know this person is ok. When he is calm, let him out to smell the person, give your "it's ok" sign and reward approprately! DO NOT let him get up on the bed with you when company is present.
I know only too well what you mean by an annoying bark. I have several of those here, the worst being Marco when he wants you up in the morning (between 5:30-6:00 of course.......it used to be earlier, but has gotten later as he is over a year old now) he has this terrible bark/yipe type thing he will do every minute until you get up. Just letting him out and going back to bed does no good, as he wants to be fed also!! I swear his yipe will wake the dead! Hugs to Splitboot from the whole Gang and lots of get well wishes for you! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
Hello, My name is Gloria Lowry, and I am in desperate need of a new home for my 6 1/2 month old Lethal White puppy. I am currently going through a divorce and am being forced to sell my home and move to an apartment. Poppy, the puppy, is not a candidate for such a home.
I was unaware that having such a puppy would be so difficult, but my family, neighbors and friends have had enough. Poppy cannot be outside in our fenced yard with our two other dogs because in addition to being tremendously aggressive with our four year old Husky, she also makes a screaming noise (constantly) that my neighbors have complained about daily. I can only walk Poppy on a leash because of this. It's not good for her or for our family.
Poppy also has a big problem with jumping/scratching. We've purchased an anti-jump harness which did not help. I have tried leaving a leash on her and stepping on it when she jumps, as well as picking up my knee as she jumps on me, to no avail. We can't have her out of her cage anytime we are dressed for work or to go out. She also can't be around if we have company because she won't stop. We even went so far as to borrow a shock collar. Turned down all the way it still hurt her and isn't an option. Poppy also barks incessantly when caged even though I trained her for a crate from the beginning, and the other dogs are right with her. There is no way I can bring her to an apartment situation, she is way too loud. I no longer feel that we are able to provide her with the environment she needs. Perhaps she would be best on acreage where her screaming/barking won't be such a factor.
We are able to keep her longer if you think you can find a good home for her. She is up to date on all shots, has been spayed and has even seen the ophthalmologist. She is both totally blind and deaf. If I you had any solutions to her problems I would keep her, but feel I am being forced to let her go by her behavior and my situation. She is a beautiful dog who I hoped would grow out of some of the bad habits. I intended to take her through obedience starting in the winter. Both of my other dogs have been through the same training and I think she could benefit from it as well. I do have to say I am completely sick of being hurt by Poppy. I am always covered in bruises from her barreling into me. It is incredibly frustrating. It isn't that she doesn't know where you are either. Once she knows where you are standing she pounces. I am not sure it's not more of an aggression problem. Please help. Thanks, Gloria
Hi Gloria, It certainly sounds like you have your hands full with Poppy. How long have you had her? Is she allowed in and outside of the house, through a doggy door while you are gone? Have you trained her with touch commands, if so what does she know and understand? Does she have any vision at all (light and dark maybe?), or is she completely blind (no eyes)?
The jumping can certainly be an issue with Aussies, but my deaf Hope knows the "off" sign, and Marco, who is blind and deaf knows to calm down if I tap him on the nose a few times. I may have to do this more than once with him, as he is just a bit over a year now, and can get pretty exuberant, all 65# of him!. I have taught my blind and deaf dogs that "no" and/or "stop that" is several taps on the nose with my fingers. When Poppy jumps, you need to teach her a touch for "no" and then get her to sit. When she sits down and remains calm for a second (preferably a bit more), you should have a "good dog" touch sign for her, and then give her a treat. This way she will learn when she does something you ask her, a treat follows.
Another question for you. When Poppy is screaming in the yard, is she circling also? If so, this is a form of OCD (Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder), which many of these pups can develop, either due to the genetics, OR because they have been separated and ignored (done by many breeders) with no human or animal interaction. If this is the case, she needs to be stopped from the circling and re-directed to do something else. Usually, the younger they are, the easier to break the habit. My Toes will run around the yard with a high pitched scream when she is playing or excited. If it continues for too long, I simply stop the play and put Toes in the house to calm down. She did the screaming/circling as a pup, but we intervened and re-directed, so this is all she does now. She also has some hearing, and I think she may do this because she can hear herself, as she does have a regular bark.
When Poppy is crated, is it an open wire kennel or an airline plastic crate? This can make a difference, as these babies don't do well in a dark enclosed area. It cuts off their sense of light and dark and vibration. Smells may not come thro as well. We always recommend an open wire crate. You say Poppy is crate trained, so when did she start screaming in the crate?
Is your Husky she is aggressive with a male or female? What exactly seems to start the aggression? How long has it been going on? A lot of what is going on with Poppy sounds like a training issue. That is why I asked you what she knows as far as commands are concerned. I would venture to guess everyone has been letting her get away with some things, and now at 6 months old, you have basically a wild teenager. You would have been best starting her in basic puppy obedience when she was about 3 months old with a trainer that was willing to work with special needs. Training is still the best thing you can do, and you can start now (why were you waiting for winter?).
As you found out, NEVER use a shock collar on these babies. They do make a vibrating collar that many folks with deaf dogs use. I have never tried one myself as most of mine are in the pool too much! But with training, I understand they can work quite well.
I would be glad to talk with you directly about Poppy if you would like. What state are you located in? We are in AZ. Depending on where you live, there may also be someone in your area knowledgeable about lethals that could contact you.
I'm not sure that you are the right person to address these questions to, but I will ask and if you can point me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it. Ok, I adopted a red heeler puppy from our local Humane Society. She was about 5 months old when we got her and we named her Sydney, "Syd" for short. We were told and it was obvious, that she was deaf. Her eyesight is fine, but she is completely deaf. She had a skin rash on her head when we adopted her that one of the volunteers that worked there thought was caused by fleas. But, with closer inspection and some research, I started to suspect mange! Well, I took her to the vet, for her shots and a check up and I was right! However, which we are so lucky for, it was the genetic form of mange, which is only passed from mother to pup and would/could be passed on from Syd to her pups if we didn't fix her, which we did two weeks ago. She only had 4 days left at the shelter, because no one wanted to adopt her since she was deaf. And, if they knew it was mange, she probably would have been euthanized sooner. I wanted her and even struck a deal with the shelter, and the volunteers paid for her spading, because they knew her time was limited.
So, with two weekly shots and two pills a day, for the last month, she is looking like a completely different dog! In the mean time, we are trying to train her hand commands, which has gone ok, but not great. Syd had free roam of our fairly large backyard that she shares with our 6 year old yellow lab. Princess, the lab, and Syd, get a long great. The play, wrestle, run
together as if they were best friends for ever. But, about a month ago, Syd destroyed one of our lawn chairs, chewing up the straps and ripping stuffing out of the cushion. With a heavy heart, I decided that I need to put her on a generous chain, but one that will not allow her too close to the things that she was destroying (she was also digging up all my potted flowers, eating tomatoes off the vines and ripping hot peppers off and playing with them all over the yard!)
Now, Syd is chained up and has taken up barking. She doesn't bark at nothing, it's always something specific that she has seen. However, if she's asleep and Princess is barking, Syd won't make a sound, because she can't hear a thing, she'll just keep on sleeping. We have a chain link fence, (which I don't like, but we bought the house in June and eventually we'll put up a privacy fence) and being on a corner lot, with an alley behind she has three ways to see what's walking/running/scurrying around the neighborhood. Last night she was barking at 3:00 in the morning and I went to the window and both she and princess were by the fence, so something was out there, but I can't tell her to stop because she can't hear me and I didn't want to go out there, since it was so late and dark.
I just need help. Princess is a quiet dog and I don't want our new neighbors to start complaining about our new addition. I adore Sydney and her earnestness to please. I'm just having a hard time training her, since she's deaf and the hardest part is being consistent. She is strictly an outdoor dog, even though we have allowed both of the dogs to "check things out inside" much to the chagrin of our two male indoor cats....!
How can I get her to stop barking? I don't want to put one of those shock collars on her, because I think that's a cruel way to train a dog. So, ANY suggestions you might have I will GREATLY appreciate it! Thank you for your time! Stephanie Decker
Hi Stephanie, The behavior you are seeing in Syd, chewing and digging, etc, is part of puppy behavior and the "terrible teen" years. Of course, Syd, being a cattle dog will be pretty hard headed too, but entirely trainable. I am concerned as to you leaving your dogs out in the back yard constantly. Why are they not allowed in the house? I do not believe in chaining dogs as it is dangerous, not only can the dog on the chain become entangled, a companion dog could also become tangled in the chain with them. And they would be unable to escape from immediate danger, like fire, flooding or a dog abuser. I understand there many be some temporary situation where it may be justified, but not something I would consider.
Of course Syd is barking because she is chained. That and not being allowed to be in the house and part of the family is very hard for a young active working dog. Her movements and exercise are extremely limited and this is not good for her. I would suggest you put the lawn furniture away (when unable to supervise) and build a fence around your garden.......as for your potted plants, you might want to consider putting a barrier around them like chicken wire, or if they are small, is there an area you can put them out of her reach? You can also try spraying Bitter Apple (can get at any pet supply store) on areas she is chewing. This is usually a good deterrent, but it depends on the dog, some it has no effect on. If you catch her chewing on something inappropriate, you need to get her attention (you can use a squirt bottle with water) and sign her to stop. Then give her something it is ok to chew on. This is just typical teenage behavior for a dog of Syd's breed, and it can be corrected, if she is re-directed to do something else.
As for the barking (assuming she is off the chain and barking at passers-by), you will have to get her attention and give her your "no bark" sign, or "stop" or whatever you are using. The problem, as you have noted, is that you have a chain link fence, so anything going by is a deterrent. My advice would be to keep the dogs in the house when you are not there to monitor and at night. Because Syd is young, you may have to confine her to a smaller area, like your kitchen, laundry or bathroom. If you are not gone for extended periods of time, you might try crating her. Depending on age, dogs shouldn't be crated more than 2 to 4 hours at a time. You have spent much time and love on Syd by taking care of her physical problems and working on teaching her signs. I truly hope you will allow her and Princess to join your family IN your house, as well as outside. Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
Hi Lorraine, seven weeks ago we adopted a lethal white male aussie, Oliver James. He was neutered and adopted at 8 mos. of age, but I think he may be about a year old. He is deaf and seems to have fairly good vision, but the vet said that may worsen over time. My problem with him is he has always lunged on the lead and when he comes in the house he attacks whatever animal happens to be standing there. It is usually over in a few seconds and we do try to correct him, but it continues. Then, just recently, he started growling at me if I wanted to adjust his collar or just want to love on him. This will go on for a while, then he is his same old loving self, then he will get grumpy again. This is our second lethal white, and I had no problems with her. We have a houseful of rescue cats that he loves. And 2 housedogs he is with all the time. The big dogs live mostly in a spare room with their own yard and door. From the beginning he has had his crate in this room and does go out with them every morning since this is the only place he will poop! We walk him out on a leash and he is 90% housebroken if we keep an eye on him. Tapping him on the nose when he gets in these moods does nothing for him. He still will slink around and growl. At first I thought it was because once in a while I will let out a big dog or two to come in the house and one in particular is a dominant dog that will not hurt him, but will ignore him. Other than that, he follows me everywhere, even when he gets grumpy, and is usually a happy, silly, playful dog. We love him to pieces, and take him out for rides in the car and give him a lot of one on one. Oh, and he is really wonderful with the cats that live outside, but tries to attack and bite our horses and goat. He is a funny little fellow, but I wouldn't trade him for the world. I do want to get to the bottom of his "issues" and all I know about his past was he was in foster care for 6 weeks and a county pound before that. I love your website, and wrote before when I lost our girl. I questioned the sense in having a dog with a weak immune system, and was devastated. You said, I would never know what could of been. That stuck with me for months, and when I saw Oliver, I had to have him. Thank you so much for caring, for helping these dogs. You touch a lot more hearts than you realize. Laurie Morris
Hi Laurie, It was good to hear from you again, and I'm glad you made the decision to provide a forever home for another lethal white pup. I feel you give me too much credit, tho, it is these babies that touch people's hearts.....I'm just the messenger for them! I will tell you I am not an expert on aggression at all, but have a few ideas for you. I will ask my partners to please give you some of their ideas and input for Oliver also.
Some dogs, for whatever reason, are horrible on a leash when other dogs approach. These same dogs will run and play with other dogs when taken off the leash. I don't know what causes this or why, but it happens. You might want to put up your other dogs when you come in the house with Oliver. Let him off the leash immediately, and then allow him to interact with your other pups......or, if you have an area you can go into first (like a laundry room or enclosed porch) to take off the leash before opening the door. I would also suggest a basic obedience class where he has to learn to sit and stay when you say so. This way, if he decides to act up, you put him in a "sit-stay" until you can remove the leash. You might also consider trying the halti lead instead of the regular collar with Oliver.
I am more concerned about him growling at you. Does he do this when you are alone together, or are there other dogs or family members present? If others are present, it is a dominant issue, i.e, he doesn't want anyone else around when you are doing something with him.....thinking it may make him feel that you are restraining him and that he could not "protect" himself (he can't hear, so needs to see where they are). Does he only do this when you touch/hug him around his neck? You say this goes on for a while and then he is his normal happy self. How long does this go on? What do you do when he starts growling?
You can also train him to leave your horses and goat alone, but it will take some time. Suffice to say he is not good with livestock, so cannot be around them unsupervised.
Has he had a thorough vet check? The first thing to look at is to make sure he is healthy, and not hurting anywhere, which would require a physical exam. I would suggest a basic blood test to make sure everything inside is ok. If you don't find any problems, then you are looking at a behavior problem. Since you have no idea what he went thro the first 6-7 months of his life, please remember it may take some time to work things out and you (and all family members) will have to be consistent.
Is he ok with all the other dogs (other than the leash issues), or have there been fights? How many dogs do you have?
I would suggest a vet check up, then obedience classes. If you continue to have problems with his growling when you are touching him, I would consider consulting a professional behaviorist to see if they can help out. You might also want to consider working with a homeopathic vet to see if some herbal remedies may help him if there are behavior issues involved.
Please let me know how Oliver is doing! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
Hi, My name is Terri and I hope you don't mind my e-mailing you. I recently joined the blind/deaf dogs mail list and happened to be online tonight when I caught your email (about Kentucky Boy) as well as your web site link. I'm thinking now that this was a stroke of luck or fate (not sure which) by being on tonight. My sisters and I recently rescued a litter of 4 incredibly beautiful 6 week old Aussies while visiting my Mother in Monticello, Kentucky. The environment they were in was terrible. When we rescued them they were half starved and filled with worms, fleas and ticks. With time, attention, food and love the two little boys got their clean bill of health from my vet and now have a home together for life. The situation is different for my little girls. Angel is what you call a lethal white (double merle). The original owner kept her isolated from the rest of the litter and was planning on drowning her because she was useless. Her right eye is undeveloped and she is blind in her left. During her recent visit to my Vet I received a confirmation that she is deaf also. Thankfully her little heart is good and strong and no murmur is present. She is an absolutely wonderful girl and had my heart and lifetime loyalty the first day I saw her isolated, alone in her dark, silent world. Incredibly she is very social, although she does sleep more than the others, and all in all I feel we saved her before it could totally affect her behavior. The only thing I have noticed it that she pays alot rougher than the others. When she does bite too hard I pull my hand away from her (to the level of her nose, so she can still smell me there, and I stop petting her with my other hand. After a couple seconds I resume and she calms right down. The biting is not as hard then. She still manages to show her herding instinct by grabbing my pant leg and tugging when we play and she even barks. Which I honestly though she would not be able to do since she is deaf. Is this a natural instinct or maybe she could hear at the very start then progressively lost it? Her sister Kira is a lovely Blue and the sweetest thing. She has taken to being my constant companion when I am home and where ever I go she is usually not far behind. Even if it's laying near my bed at night. My Veterinarian tested her and says she has a vision problem also and it will progressively worsen until one day she will no longer see even a shadow. Her hearing is good and strong so I have that to work with over time. I guess my biggest concern is how to train Angel with her inability to hear and see it makes the challenge pretty fierce. I have been unable to locate any books that addresses the combination of deafness and blindness, but I refuse to give up. I have started using vibration and smell with her and it works. Unfortunately, this is a first time experience for Angel and I both. I am currently a Veterinarian technician student so I have no difficulty accepting the responsibility and love for Angel and Kira to do this. In the short time I have had them they have become such a part of me, my life that I thank god for putting them in my life as he has. I feel special to be chosen but not sure of the direction at the same time. I have started a journal all about this and hope to one day look back on it and say look girls, look how far we have come.
Any advice you can give would be so appreciated. I love this breed and find it so difficult the accept that they can be treated so terribly. They are such a proud, loveable, loyal and regal animal that if I could I would have many more.
Any help I can be to the Aussie Rescue will be given 100%. I live in Pennsylvania (the Harrisburg Area) and can help out when you need me to. Be it rescuing, caring or even driving please ask.
Thanks for your time in reading this long worded note. I look forward to meeting and getting to know people that have the same deep awareness, love and respect for any creatures be they societally acceptable or what many feel are disposable because of disability. We are all in it together and it takes lots of love from but a few, to make up for the hurt and insensitivity of many.
Thanks for all the incredible work you do, as trying as it can be I know you do it out of love.
Teresa, Angel & Kira Teresa Ana Durborow
Hi Terri, It's always wonderful to "meet" another lethal white mom (or dad) and to hear their story, even tho it made me cry! I am so glad you were able to get all the pups out of there....what a horrible, horrible situation! Sounds like a case for owner euthanasia!
Your story did help confirm a few of my theories. First of all the separation of a blind and deaf pup from his/her littermates is inexcusable! I have heard some stories and yours just confirms again that this what they do! This causes OCD behavior problems, which come in many forms from circling to chasing invisible flies. Over a period of time these behaviors become worse, and at times may be impossible to stop. If not for YOU, things would have continued to become worse for these babies! My second theory is about nutrition for these kids. I believe that the poor nutrition, PLUS all the other problems they had with worms and ticks, etc, caused an effect in the development of their eyes (not to mention their entire systems) The boys got lucky, but your Kira's eyes obviously suffered the effects, as did Angel's, but worse for her because of her genetics. BTW, what exactly is Kira's vision problem? Cataracts?
Through my vet (she does holistic and acupuncture also), I have just started working with adding Lutein to the diet of all our lethals. It is a vitamin that will help with the eyes. Because this is all new ground, we are not yet sure of how effective it can be, but our Mesa 4 lethals have ALWAYS had supplements added since birth. ALL of them had their eyes completely formed, and only one of them has very little sight, BUT he can hear. I think good nutrition, plus supplements give these kids a chance at having the best development possible with genetic defects.
The biting hard that Angel is doing is a result of being isolated from the other pups! She did not learn to play and interact until you saved them. You are doing the right thing, as my Toes bit HARD and held on when we got her! You'll find that will phase itself out as you work with Angel. As you've noticed, all dogs can bark, whether they can hear themselves or not! My Toes does hear some high pitched sounds, and her bark is very high pitched, tho she can do a "big dog" bark when she wants. I believe she barks at this level so she can hear herself (took me a while to figure this out!). My Hope is totally deaf, and has a regular dog bark. How much hearing they have is determined when they are born. The genetics of the double merle gene (MM) cause the parts of the inner ear not to form. My vet says they actually do not have those parts, which is why they cannot hear. I would assume my Toes may have some malformed parts, as she can hear some things. Anyway, they do not lose their hearing as they grow, they only have what they were born with.
The reason you can't find any books on deaf and blind dogs is because there aren't any (I should write one, huh?)! You will have to use touch signals with Angel. Is there any possibility she sees light and dark, or maybe shadows? Always have a light on at night, especially when she has to go out to potty, make sure porch light is on. Leave some lights on in a dark hallway.....if there is some vision, that will help her navigate. I am listing some that I use with Toes and Marco, but you can add more and make up your own. What is important is that you are consistent (as you'll have to train all members of your 2-legged family) with the signals. You'll find she'll learn very quickly!
Touch to right or left shoulder......means pay attention, turn this way (depending on what shoulder you touch)
One finger rub forward under chin............means come forward
Rub right (or left ear)...................means good girl/boy
Touch to rear end........................means sit
Touch between shoulder blades.....means lie down
Hand flat on top of head.................means get down (if jumping on you or counter when older!)
One finger tap across top of nose (2 times).............means quit doing that
Hand flat on chest...........................means stay.
It is very important that you touch her a lot. She needs to know she is cared for and loved, and by touching you are telling her this. Of course lots of hugs and kisses help too. Always wake her up from sleep with a gentle touch to the body. I usually touch the shoulder, but if I am reaching in the kennel and the hip is closer, I touch that first........depends how far you want to crawl in the kennel! And speaking of kennels, I recommend the open wire ones, as not only to they allow for air flow (these kids get hot quickly), they allow for the senses to be used. Those plastic airline crates are not good for them, will make them feel boxed in.
You can use your hand to gently guide her the direction you want her to go when she is walking. She will get the idea after a while. I use this to help the pups to the door and get them to where it will open....just kind of "steer" her with your hand. I also use this to "guide" them to the food bowl, but the sense of smell helps lots here!!
I know you'll do just fine, as you have already started in the right direction! A few books you might want to try are "Living with a Deaf Dog" by Susan Cope Becker, "Hear, Hear A Guide to Training a Deaf Puppy" by Barry Eaton, and "Living with Blind Dogs" by Caroline D. Levin, R.N.
The other thing I'd like you to do is start both the girls on Lutein. You can buy it at any health food store and it comes in gel caps or dry capsules. The girls should be at least 3 months old and you should give 20 mg (one capsule) once a day. It will take several months for you to notice an improvement, but you will....I hope!
Thank you for your offer to help these babies! If you would like us to add you to our Lethal White Contacts page /contact_us.htm let me know. You can add your phone # if you like, it's optional. If you could help with pulling a pup and temporary foster, that would be great! Let me know if you are also available for that.
Thank you for all your caring and support! We couldn't do this without wonderful people like you! Give the girls a kiss from all of us! Please send pictures soon! And if you're ever in AZ, we'd love to meet you in person! Please stay in touch! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
Hello! About a year a go I was considering adopting a dog from you (her name was Hope) but was told at the time that you usually don't do out of state adoptions (though it could be possible) in the long run we decided to wait to try to adopt the "perfect one". Well after several month of contact with a rescue (where I had adopted my other dog from in December 2002) I finally decided that it was time to adopt Scout a Blue Merle "Lethal white" Australian Shepherd. He is a year and a half old; he is blind and we believe he is deaf in one ear and has limited hearing in the other. (the one which we think he is deaf in is solid white with no pigment) I am planning to start Obedience training with him soon and was wondering if there was anything "special" I need to do? I have had experience with training deaf dogs, but never one who was blind. Would just using voice commands be adequate? Or should I work on teaching him touch commands to? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Amanda Garman
Hi Amanda! Don't know if you checked our website out, but I ended up adopting Hope! She was my foster and my hubby couldn't let her go. She is doing agility training currently, and isn't doing too bad....a little bit over enthusiastic (read no stay command) if anything!
I am so glad you were able to give Scout a loving home. All dogs are perfect of course, they just have to find the right family for them! You can work with Scout using both touch and verbal commands. Since he can hear, he will very quickly learn the touch commands you are associating with his verbal ones. How does he respond to you at home? Do you use voice and touch or just voice? Sometimes the problem these pups can have is when hearing is limited to one ear, they will be able to hear you, but not be able to tell which direction your voice is coming from. I'm listing some of the touch commands I use with my blind and deaf kids, but you can create your own that work best for you and Scout.
Touch to right or left shoulder......means pay attention, turn this way (depending on what shoulder you touch)
One finger rub forward under chin............means come forward
Rub right (or left ear)...................means good girl/boy
Touch to rear end........................means sit
Touch between shoulder blades.....means lie down
Hand flat on top of head.................means get down (if jumping on you or counter when older!)
One finger tap across top of nose (2 times).............means quit doing that
Hand flat on chest...........................means stay.
The nice thing about obedience training is they want the dog to stay close to you and heel. This is good position to allow you to use touch commands, as they are right there. Also, I bet Scout will tune right in with your leg movements and know just where you want him to be! The hardest command will probably be "come" but if you stay close enough for him to determine where your voice is coming from you should have no problem. Distance will be an issue with that command tho, as he may come in the right direction, but may be off to one side or the other.
Before you start class, I would work with some basic commands at home, like sit (that's the easy one) stay and down. You can try your come command and see how far away you can get before he cannot determine just where your voice is coming from. Then when you start class you'll have an idea of what to expect, and what you can work on (as well as what's not going to work!) Please let me know how he does in obedience (bet he does lots better than some hearing/seeing dogs!) Send us a pix if you have one....we'd love to see him! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
I have a 8 month lethal and I'm concerned about her eyes in the summer.
What kind of eyewear is the best? Belle (We call her "Gomee") can see
but is totally deaf. I have 2 other Aussies and they keep a close eye
on her, but she loves to hang out in the yard with the other dogs and I
would like to get something to protect her eyes. Is there something I
can put on her little pink nose also? Is there a certain kind of
sunscreen that you would recommend? Belle is my first lethal Aussie and
she is the best! Any information you could provide would be
Lydia Cook Spooner, WI
Hi Lydia! What an ADORABLE baby picture of Gomee! Congratulations on your "new" family member! Who/where did you adopt her from??
Ok, as for the eyewear, you can buy Doggles, BUT unless you are walking Gomee, where she has some supervision, she will just run outside and rub them off, so they are not going to work for playtime in the yard. If she would wear a cap that would shade her eyes, that would help also, but it will probably end up hanging around her neck! The best you can do is try to keep her out of the sun the brightest part of the day, and if you are doing something with her, try to keep the sun behind her so she is not staring into it. If you take her in the car on a bright day, do not let her sit and look out a window the sun is shining in. Early mornings and evenings are the best time for her to spend time outside. Also winter will be easier on her than summer, as the sunlight is not as intense.
Be sure to check her eyes once and a while, and if they ever turn green, get her to the eye vet immediately, as that is a sign of Uveitis! The sooner she is treated, the less chance she has of her eye (s) being permanently damaged. I would also recommend a check-up by a certified Ophthalmologist for Gomee just to make sure there are no potential problems. This will also give your vet a baseline to work with for any potential future problems. Here is a link to our eye clinic site. http://www.eyecareforanimals.com You can read about Uveitis and other problems by clicking on the "eye conditions" bar. Uveitis can happen to any dog, not just lethals. I am also attaching part of an article by C.A. Sharp (Aussie geneticist) that describes some of the problems that can occur in lethals (homozygous merles is the "politically correct" term) and a definition of the terms used.
We recommend you give Gomee a vitamin called Lutein. You can find it in any health food store....and maybe your local drugstore depending. You should give one 20 mg capsule a day for the rest of her life. It has helped my Hope and Toes and many of our lethals with their eyes. It usually takes a couple of months, but for pups with less perfectly formed eyes, it has helped with the dilation of the pupil, enabling them to see better. My Hope's eyes were quite starburst when she was young, but now since the Lutein, I've noticed the pupil does not appear to be spread out as much as when she was younger. My Toes, who has very little vision out of one eye, now can see a bit more as her pupil contracts and dilates a lot better. We could tell she was "seeing" better when she started barking at more shadows! This was recommended by my homeopathic vet, and is still "experimental" because we just started putting all our lethals on it. The best part is it is not harmful, so if it doesn't help, it doesn't hurt either. This is also good if one of your other pups decides to eat it....just a vitamin, no harm done!
For my Hope's pink nose, I just got baby sunblock 50 SPF and apply often, depending on how much time she is in the pool. Gomee will probably lick at it a bit, but it should be heavy enough to provide some protection. I just bought the highest SPF I could find in the smallest bottle I could find! Sorry this was kind of long, but I hope it has helped! Hugs and kisses to all the furkids! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
Hi Lorraine, I have just brought Keller home to foster. He is a lethal white Aussie (I think). He is six months old, mostly white with blue merle patches, and tiny blue eyes that aren't visible most of the time. He seems to be able to distinguish light and dark but not to see anything else. He doesn't respond when I flash a flashlight near his face, but he does go toward windows and wags his tail when the light comes on in the morning. He asks to go out by sitting or standing up against a door with a big window in it. He is totally deaf. He was left tied to the door of the local humane society and spent six weeks there with a very loving staff. When they realized that he was both blind and deaf they looked for a foster home that could provide the love and training he needed. Although I have never trained a blind or deaf dog before I brought him home on New Year's Eve. He is a delight! He is so smart and loving and beautiful. In less than a week he is housebroken, has learned sit on touch command, is working on down, and he runs through the house and yard with joyous abandon. He rarely has a hard collision, although most of the time I'd like to put bumpers on his little head.
I have really appreciated the information you provide on this website. I have so many questions! I don't want to overwhelm you but I hope you can give me some guidance as I work with Keller. He is so smart and so confident I want to do the right things to keep him that way.
He was a very docile and cuddly pup at the shelter, but he has just finished treatment for worms and coccidia. He has become an extremely active and independent pup. He still likes the occasional cuddle but doesn't seek it all the time the way he did. Should this concern me?
His high activity level has been fine when I was home from work this week and could walk and play with him to tire him, but when I go back to work I don't know what to do. He will either have to be crated for 7 hours a day or learn to be quiet at work with me. ( I teach college) I bought a portable pet home to bring to the office with me. He will go into it if I put food in it, but if I confine him he barks and howls and throws a temper tantrum. I don't let him out while he is barking and eventually he will bark himself to sleep. He is getting better about being confined in a wire crate. He stays there at night and when I can't supervise him. He is just too active to be allowed loose in the house when I can't watch him--I'm afraid he will get hurt in the middle of one of his antics (like walking across the top of the couch). How can I get him to tolerate being confined and should I even try to confine him? I have tried to get a network of friends who will "Keller sit" for a couple of hours during the day on a rotating schedule. Is this a good idea or will he become insecure or wildly disoriented? I have also enrolled him in a "pre-agility class" designed for puppies. I think he can do this and it will reinforce his confidence.
He lives in a household with 6 other dogs. He plays very roughly with them. When they signal their displeasure with a growl or hard look, he, of course, can't recognize it, so he gets a correction that sends him screaming across the room. Most of my dogs are rescues and some come with baggage of their own, so two of them are never in the same part of the house with him. My largest collie, Keri, runs away from Keller and sometimes hides in his crate. Never to be daunted, Keller follows him into the crate, still biting and jumping on him until I remove Keller from Keri. How can I get him to be gentler in play? Right now no one wants to be his buddy because he's so rough. He isn't aggressive, but I would say he is a dominant personality.
I train only with positive methods and he responds very well to this approach. I wish he could hear a clicker! I apologize for such a long message. Thank you so much for all that you do to help dogs like Keller. Bille Wickre Albion, Michigan
Hi Bille! First of all, congratulations on your new family member! As you have already figured out, being blind and deaf is not a problem for Keller! I'll bet he has learned even more in a week! I am sorry I did not respond more quickly, but it has been a little crazy here with pups getting adopted, as well as more rescues coming in!
The difference you are seeing between Keller at the shelter and at your home is because now he is free to be himself and not kenneled most of the time. Of course a sick puppy is always a bit more quiet and needing of attention. At the shelter he took as much as he could from the limited time that could be spent with him. Now that he can have a hug any time he wants, he is free to be a puppy again! He knows you are there and is comfortable with that, so now he is off to have fun. Because all dogs have different personalities, it is hard to tell if he will be a cuddler or not. Some are, some aren't. Sometimes they have to learn that cuddling is wonderful because they weren't cuddled as babies. My Toes is not really a cuddle-type. She likes to be with you and she sleeps on the bed (taking up most of the king-size bed at about 42#), but she doesn't usually sleep right next to us. Hope and Marco, like to get up on the sofa and curl up with you, which Toes doesn't usually do. On the bed they like to sleep right up against us. All three were raised from puppies, but they all came from different backgrounds, with Toes having had the worst past. So the answer is it shouldn't concern you, he will find his own place with you as he grows and realizes he is finally home.
As for confining Keller, other than the shelter, which is not a good atmosphere for blind and deaf dogs, who knows how much he was confined. This is very bad for any dog, but much worse when they are blind and deaf, as it limits their senses, and you may always have some problems with it, depending on his past. Toes was so bad, she screamed bloody murder in the crate and did not stop. She was housebroken by sleeping on the bed with us (no one got much sleep for many months). She still hates the crate and will scream, BUT, she is ok in an X-pen. That confines her when we do events, but she still has room to walk around and I think that is the difference. If you can, try confining Keller to an X-pen in your office. Another option you might have, depending on the size, is to confine him with a baby gate to a smaller area. You can also try confining him to a "safe" area of the house when you are gone, with a baby gate. One caution, you must consider his safety when it comes to your other dogs! VERY IMPORTANT when deciding how and where to confine him. Of course you must make sure there is no trouble he can get into.....altho they tend to find some anyway. In our old house, we confined the pups to the kitchen with a baby gate....plenty of room to move, but nothing to get hurt with. I think having your friends baby-sit is great for Keller. It is giving him plenty of socialization and getting used to other people....this is one of the best things you can do for him. Also, you are right on about the pre-agility class, and it is not just for him, it is for YOU too! The both of you are learning new things together, so you will have a bond and an understanding between each other. VERY good for his confidence level too!
Hopefully, when he is adjusted to your house and housebroken AND out of the chewing stage, you won't need a crate for him, but that will take some time.
As for your other pups, you will have to monitor their reactions around Keller. He will learn when one of them wants to be left alone, and a little nip is no big deal. You have to make sure your dog (s) don't aggressively go after him. And because you have 6 other dogs, you always have to be on top of things and NEVER let them have a chance to gang up on Keller.....you know their personalities, so you know who to keep separate, etc. BUT, it is not all on your other dogs either. Here is another example of not knowing what background Keller came from. One of our foster dogs (not in my care), Scrappy, came to us as an only dog who did not have doggy manners, with people OR dogs. He was let to get away with too much as a pup, because his family was not quite sure what to do with him (tho they loved him very much). As an only dog, he did not learn to play correctly with other dogs. He has been steadily improving in foster care, and is learning from his foster brother (also an Aussie) about doggy manners, as well as from his foster family. He has made wonderful progress!
You need to set limits for Keller. If Keller could hear and see, would you let him chase Keri into his kennel? Ok, well you need to tell Keller "NO", that is not ok to do that to Keri! That is Keri's crate, and only he should be allowed in it....do not let Keller go in there, stop him from chasing Keri in! When Keller starts getting too rough, you need to stop him right away and tell him "NO". Usually a few taps on the nose will do it, but you might also try a squirt bottle! A couple of squirts should make him stop the behavior. If he continues to play rough and ignore you (and he will try to get away with it), then Keller needs a "time out". Usually this is a short time (5 to 10 min) in the crate, and a toy or goodie he likes in there with him. After he has settled, let him out and see if he starts up again. If he does, he gets another "time out". If the crate is a problem, then he should be separated from the others in an X-pen or baby-gated room until he settles. You have to remember your dogs need some free time from Keller also, and they still need your love and attention, so be sure to maintain whatever schedule you have for them and do not devote 99% to Keller.
A lot of what Keller is doing (with the rough play and such) is because he is becoming an adult and trying to find his "place" in your pack. This needs to be the "right" place for the whole pack, or you will have problems down the road. Do NOT let Keller get away with things just because he is blind and deaf. Remember, he has that Aussie personality, and he is going to see just how far he can go. YOU need to be the dominant personality in your house!
Eventually he will figure things out, and that there are rules.....yours as well as the other pups. Sometimes one (or more) of my bunch just gets to the "idiot" stage and then the mom has to remind them all of the rules again! They all get a "time-out"!
I don't know how much of the website you were on, but there are some touch commands I listed in response to another question. They are in the 4th response on the "Ask Lorraine" page. Of course you can make up you own as needed, but hopefully this gives you a place to start.
Again, let me apologize for taking so long to answer, but I needed some uninterrupted time to answer all your questions. I hope this was not too much for you to read through, and that it has been of some help. Please keep in touch, would love to know how Keller is adjusting, as these kids are just so amazing....they will never stop surprising you........my partner is still trying to figure out how my blind and deaf Toes gets away with acting as if she can see and hear! We're not telling either!
Take care....hugs to all yours and some special hugs to Keller! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang
Follow-Up Response: Lorraine, you are so great! I am soooo glad I wrote you. All of your advice is wise, and also very validating for me. I have made sure that Teek has alone time with me every day, and more importantly, the bed has remained his alone. Although one day Meka will be big enough to jump up, for now it is Teeks' and Teek's alone. I haven't even put Meka on there for brief moments. So, like your Molly, Teek just heaves big martyred sighs and retreats to the bedroom and the bed where no Mekas can venture! Its pretty funny, actually. And always I take an extra few minutes just for Teek after I crate Meka at night. Teek sleeps with me, so that hasn't been affected at all. I am hoping by the time Meka gets big enough to jump on the bed, Teek will happily share it. I had another rescue for a year....a wonderful, wonderful dog Teek's size (big) and Teek shared the bed happily with Mr. BoBailey (now THAT is a great story.....suffice it to say my Bo was tragically killed on October 21, which oddly enough is the very day four years ago that I found Teek as a starving 20 or 21 day old pup, AND the day, or at least in the week of, when the Vet thinks Meka was born. How's THAT for cosmic!!! I am destined to have starving, abandoned male dogs in my life, all of whom take up more space in my heart than I ever knew even was possible!!!!! I think Bo's spirit is in that little body of Meka!
I like your idea of the doggie playpen alot. I do have a crate for Meka, a large one (a kennel actually) that is very comforting to him...but I can see how the playpen would offer an even different set of boundaries. Meka is very smart, I am blown away by how quickly he learns.....so I think he would respond well to his own playpen, and understand its purpose
Its REALLY good to hear you say that about him peeing after playing. Honest to God, I was going to have the vet check him for a bladder infection! I have never SEEN a dog pee this much....but then, I have never seen this hyper of a puppy either! Teek was wayyyyyyyyyy calmer than Meka. I think that's why he trained fast.....he was so predictable I was always able to take him out when I knew he had to go. I think Meka is getting it (especially in the last two days) but he plays SO hard, that even if I had just taken him out, he pees again. This time on the carpet! So it helps alot to realize that play=pee. I will be able to intervene much better now....THANK YOU!
I am ALWAYS happy to share pictures. (Proud mama...its obnoxious, but I can sense a kindred spirit in you. Feel free to send pictures of YOUR brood!) Just for fun I am attaching a picture of TEEK about a week after I found him, and a picture of him now. Teek is a miracle story and a miracle dog. Maybe we all feel this way about our dogs, but honestly, everyone who meets Teek says the same thing: "He is not really a dog....he is a boy in furry clothes." The most anyone ever conceded was that Teek is a dog; he just doesn't KNOW he is a dog! Might have something to do with my having carried him for four weeks in a papoose type sarong so he had a heartbeat next to him all the time (he went to work with me for a whole year after I found him). Teek, by the way is short for Teekona, which is the Athabascan word for wolf. I found him in an Athabascan village in Alaska and even as a puppy he had HUGE teeth and looked like a wolf when he would bare his teeth (which as a puppy he did OFTEN. Now he is gentle as the rain).
Well, sorry to make this so long. Its just so much fun to get your message and hear about Holly and Molly, and to clearly hear your love for your dogs through your words. All those lethal whites are so very lucky.
Thanks again for the advice, Debra (Teek and Meka too)
I'll send you an updated picture of Meka when he grows a little bit! And thanks for the advice on his eyes...I will definitely follow through with that.
Hi Lydia and Jim, I do remember meeting you at the Oncologist's! I had my Josie (BC) there for lymphoma and unfortunately it did not go well. I should have stopped the treatments after the 2nd one. Don't think I'll be doing that type of chemo ever again. I lost my Jo December 18, 2002.
I am so glad to hear Keller is doing so well...except for his eye problem. You are very lucky to have him happy and healthy for so many years.
Ok, now to the eyes of lethal whites. I'm sure the eye doc told you that because of the genetics, they are more delicate than a normal Aussie eye. One of the problems is that the blood vessels are close to the surface and not as protected as they should be. That is why there was so much bleeding into his eye. Normally blood in the eye for these guys is caused by Uveitis, which is treated with a steroid drop or ointment, and depending on the severity, some oral prednisone. Since Keller has a scratch on his cornea, they cannot use the steroids, as it will make it worse and be very painful. The most important thing is to get the bleeding to stop. Once it has stopped it might take quite a while (months) for the blood to clear up. During this time, Keller cannot see because of all the blood....the doc can't see thro it either. A few things to worry about (along with stopping the bleeding) are the eye pressure (sometimes the ducts between the front and back part of eye become blocked and fluid cannot move out of the area causing pressure to build up in the eye), and the other problem is scarring from all the inflammation in the eye can cause the pupil to no longer expand and contract (somehow it gets adhered to something in the eye...I can't remember quite how), and that will cause blindness.
If the eye doc can get the bleeding to stop and maintain stability in the eye, and also keep the pupil expanding and contracting, once the blood clears out of Keller's eye, he should be able to see again. Depending on the condition and healing of the eye, he may only lose some sight........or he could lose all sight in that eye. I can speak from experience, as my Sage lost all vision in her good eye due to Uveitis which became bad so quickly, her eye was full of blood. It took several months to clear up the blood, but now she is unable to see, as the pupil can no longer expand and contract. However, she is pretty much her old self and gets around very well (she can hear tho). It does not seem to have affected her much, as she cheap-shots Zach (our obnoxious dobie mix boy), and sometimes the others, depending. Guess what I'm saying here is they can adjust to the blindness, especially if they are in an environment they know well. What you will have to do is work with touch commands for Keller......he will learn quickly, believe me!
Something else you should do is start Keller on an eye vitamin. My vet (who does holistic medicine along with the regular stuff) put Sage on Premier Formula for Ocular Nutrition, which is made by Hi Health. It is a Lutein formula blend, and my vet said one of the few that had proven results. I am giving Sage (40#) 2 capsules a day, and I know it helped clear up the blood in her eye and stabilize it. I recommended to a family in Calif. whose pup had the same problem as Sage, and his last report to me is that the blood is starting to clear out of her eye!
We are recommending that all our lethals take Lutein, just the regular vitamin....can be found in any health food store, and Walgreen's is now carrying it! The dose is 20mg once a day for pups 3 months and older. The good part about it is that if it doesn't help, it doesn't hurt them in any way....it's a vitamin. We have just started working with Lutein, and I and others have seen results (takes a few months) in the vision (improving) because the pupil appears to be dilating out more. It has helped both my Toes (who is mostly blind) and my Hope (starburst pupils). We are the first to try this, as it was new to my vet too......she did the research when I asked her if there was anything I could do to help improve on bad genetics. The Ocular Formula is for serious eye problems, tho it can be used as a daily vitamin too.
Sorry this got kind of long, but there was a lot of information I wanted to give you. Please let me know what the eye doc said about Keller's eye. In the meantime, try to incorporate some touch commands in with his daily routine. There is no reason why Keller cannot enjoy his old age with or without his sight! Please let me know how he's doing! Lorraine & the Ayres Gang