A true story and testimonial by Tonya Morgan, Creator of Blind Dog Bumper Collars:
“Years ago I spent considerable time volunteering at the local animal shelter – “the pound.” It was a high kill system and the old and/or blind dogs just didn’t have a chance. They were usually put down right away.
I always arrived with a pocket full of treats. I would make sure I had time for each dog to get out of their kennel and be brushed, walked, go for a run with me or whatever I could do to improve their day and show them love.
One day an elderly man came in quite upset and crying. He said his health was poor and he couldn’t keep his bulldog, George. As I was spending time with the other dogs, I was watching for George to come back to the kennels, and finally I asked “Where is George?” I was told “He went straight to the euthanasia room… he was old and blind. Nobody would want him.” That ripped my heart apart. I think this was the turning point in my life where I realized that many blind dogs don’t have a chance in most shelters.
I started searching the Internet for blind dog rescues and no kill shelters. Petfinder.com is a great resource… you can search for dogs in your area with specific criteria, including “special needs.” I found a Red Heeler named Quinn, who was both old and blind. This was my first experience of living with a sightless dog. She was very fearful and had little desire to walk around the house or yard. To improve her mobility, I designed a now-patented Blind Dog Bumper Collar for her. It changed her life immediately. Once she realized she had a buffer in front of her there was no stopping her! She was on the move…checking out every inch of her new home.
My furry, sightless family grew with Kaylee. Due to chronic hip pain, she was prescribed pain meds. One morning she couldn’t see her medicine spoon. My vet thought that she had a stroke in the night and lost her eyesight. Seeing how the Blind Dog Bumper Collar had benefitted Quinn, I put one on her too. It made a big difference in helping her navigate safely.
On a roll, I added a Corgi mix to the mix that was born with no eyeballs. I brought a Blind Dog Bumper Collar with me when I went to adopt Ollie and put it on him at the shelter. This boy is super sweet and plays non-stop while running with his rattle and crinkle toys! These types of toys, along with specially “scented” toys, work best for sightless dogs.
All of these dogs are really wonderful! I am 51 years old and have 8 very special dogs, each with their unique personality and needs. In my lifetime, I have adopted puppies and young dogs, older dogs and dogs with disabilities. I have fostered many dogs along the way, but there’s something extremely special about living with a blind dog. They are extra sweet and demonstrate pronounced gratitude as they sense a renewed leash on life. It’s rewarding to rescue a dog that would otherwise be overlooked or euthanized. A part of my heart is in each one of them.
Many people are uncertain about adopting a blind dog… and have questions. “What is it like to adopt a blind dog?” Personally, I think it’s MUCH easier than adopting a puppy. All of my blind dogs are remarkably more affectionate and content to be right by my side, in my shadow, sitting next to me on the couch or cuddling up at bedtime. My blind dogs get along well with other dogs, including the cat. They don’t have dominance issues so there’s never any fighting over food or toys. I have personally witnessed that they are easier to train as they depend on their senses differently than dogs that can see.
If you are looking for an instant connection and for a dog that truly loves and needs you, please think about adopting a blind dog.
If you have a blind dog or wish to adopt one, consider the specially-designed bumper collar available at https://blinddogbumpercollars.com/.
Other tips for living with a blind dog are provided by Blind Dog Rescue Alliance @
“Did you know a dog’s primary sense is smell, followed by hearing? Vision is a dog’s third most important sense—that’s relatively low on the list. Dogs also possess a skill called cognitive mapping. It’s the same instinct that allows them to find an object they buried weeks ago. That’s really handy for blind dogs. That’s what enables them to “map” the house and yard”.
Here is a list of suggestions to help your blind dog live a normal life:
- Try not to move furniture around or leave obstacles on the floor.
- Ask people to let your dog “smell” their hand before touching them. Most blind dogs’ personalities don’t change. Some dogs however can easily become “startled” and this could lead to fear biting in some dogs.
- Be creative with different scents to mark areas for your blind dog. Use different scents of flavored extracts or even something as simple as hanging a car air freshener or potpourri sachet on a door. Different scented candles in each room may also help your dog distinguish different rooms in the house. A dab of vanilla extract on the dog’s sleeping spot, a touch of Pledge near the food bowl, and a drop of perfume near the door outside helps identify those key areas. Don’t worry about whether you can smell the scent—your dog’s nose is much more sensitive.
- Use textured materials to mark areas. Throw rugs or carpet sample squares in doorways going into each room makes it easier to find the door openings. Wind chimes near the back door or dog door, or door mats at outside door entrances can be helpful to your dog getting headed back and in the door after going outside.
- Use bells or jingling tags on your other dogs, not only to help your blind dog find/follow your other dogs, but also to avoid them being startled by your other dogs. You can also use bells on your shoes to help them find you and when you are walking them outside.
- Don’t be afraid to walk with a “heavy foot” when approaching them especially with a blind/deaf dog…they can still feel vibrations.
- Training is vitally important for blind dogs. Instead of just heel, sit and stay, owners need to add commands like “step up,” “step down,” “slow down,” and “stop”. This not only helps them to find you, but you can help them avoid obstacles. As you walk, apply a little backward pressure on the collar, or touch the dog’s chest to slow it down, as you voice the word “easy” or “slow.” Draw the word out so it sounds the way you want the dog to act—eeeaassssyyy. As the dog slows, feed it a treat.
- A tabletop fountain can be used as a water bowl. Get a simple one with a large bowl. The sound of running water helps to orient the blind dog and find the water bowl as well as know where he is from the sound. Some dogs like drinking from running water too! This can be especially helpful if you have to move to a new home with a blind dog.
- If your dog uses a crate – turn it on its side, so the door opens “up” and you can bungee the door in place. This way your dog doesn’t need to worry that the door may only be partially open.
- If you have young children that need to understand things are “new” for their doggie, have them put on a blindfold and crawl around so they can *see* that things are different for their pal.
- Hearing your voice is very soothing, so talk to your blind dog often. Let them know when you are walking out of a room, etc. Even just some “silly chatter” is enjoyable to them, and really is kind of fun!
- Remember to speak to your dog when you are approaching to touch (especially while sleeping) to prevent startling them.
- If your dog wore a collar for walking before, now is a good time to try a harness. You have more control if the dog balks, with less stress to the neck and eyes, this is important with glaucoma.
- Use a baby gate or a decorative fireplace screen to block stairs until your dog has mastered them. Teach stairs by placing a “treat” on every step or two. Stand in front of your dog, holding collar or harness, and gently encourage (without pulling). Practice until they are able to go up and down smoothly.
- If boarding your dog, or leaving with the vet or groomer, make a special sign to have added to their kennel saying “I’m blind” to make sure all caregivers “know” your dog is blind.
- Socialize your blind dog. Don’t coddle them by picking them up to get to their food, water, or outside. Treat them as a regular dog and let them figure it out. Above all, be patient. Dogs can sense when you are frustrated or upset.
- Finally, remember, blind dogs can live healthy, happy lives.
To all our clients with special needs dogs, THANK YOU for having the vision and “CBD” – Caring Beyond Disability – to bring them into your homes.