When a blind dog meets with his fellow dogs, can they recognize that he isn’t just like any of them?
For us humans, it’s absolutely easier for us to spot the differences but what about dogs?
When an Akita named Kiaya got diagnosed with glaucoma and started losing her vision, her dog brother, Cass, noticed .
According to their owner, Jessica VanHusen, she had no idea how Cass knew about Kiaya’s ordeal.[mas-in-content]
“I would see him consistently staying on her blind side, he would brush up against her going up the stairs, and he would position himself and sit on her blind side in the back yard. I don’t know how it happened — it was definitely not something I facilitated.”
VanHusen then adopted a third Akita, which she named Keller — and he seemed to pick up on Kiaya’s blindness too.
“It was like the two boys knew to take care of the matriarch,” VanHusen said.
But Cass and Keller aren’t the only canines that can notice another dog’s blindness.
Gladys DiCanio, a volunteer with Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, has also noticed that dogs really do guide each other.
“I had a blind and deaf cocker spaniel and my golden retriever became her seeing-eye dog, helping her go up and down stairs, staying by her side in the yard and following her through the house. It was truly amazing.”
But how is it possible for dogs to tell if another dog is blind? Dr. Erika Loftin, a veterinarian at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon, thinks it has to do with dogs’ keen observation skills.
“[Dogs] would be able to tell that there’s something different about [blind dogs] from the way they interact,” Loftin told The Dodo. “They would be able to sense that the other animal is vulnerable.”
Additionally, Dr. Gwen Sila, a veterinarian from BluePearl Vet Clinic in Southfield, Michigan, also said that the relationship between the blind dog and the other dog will change.
“I think the nonvisual dog will follow the visual dog around, and a new dynamic kind of develops,” Sila said. “One almost becomes the seeing-eye dog for the other dog.”
“Dogs in general are pretty adaptable and it’s pretty amazing what they can do,” Sila said. “Their sense of hearing is incredible, and their sense of smell is much better than ours. So they start to rely on these other senses to navigate.”
“Also, when they’re in a familiar environment, they’ll map everything out, so as long as things stay consistent in the house that they’re familiar with — then they’re not going to bump into things,” Sila added. “For unfamiliar places, their other senses will kick in, and they’ll rely on those things to get around.”
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