Three weeks ago today Duke had his eyes surgically removed. Recovery did not go as expected.
My beautiful boy.
Three weeks ago today Duke had surgery to remove an eye that was painful and swollen from glaucoma. I elected to remove his other eye, which was covered in a cataract, mostly blind, and had a high risk of needing to be removed down the road.
I’d love to tell you that we spent the last three weeks snuggling and healing, but the truth is, the recovery was much more difficult than expected.
I don’t even have many pictures because he was such a handful. He needed constant supervision. I wasn’t able to leave the house or take on any work. He seemed angry, stubborn and fearful. He crashed into things, repeatedly and with too much speed. He wouldn’t let me guide him. He’d fight me if I tried to lead him with a leash or his collar. He would walk along a wall and repeatedly crash into it with his cone. His stitches held, but he often cut the sensitive, swollen skin around his eyes. Even the places that he should have been familiar with seemed to confuse him, and he wasn’t making any progress mapping things out.
I didn’t understand any of this because he was mostly blind before the surgery. When I adopted him in August he could see some light on good days, but by the time he went into surgery, he couldn’t see anything. This shouldn’t have been such a big adjustment. I had thought he’d feel relief from the glaucoma pain, but instead, he was a bit of a beast.
A friend of mind told me he would have put Duke down instead of remove his eyes. I admit to a few moments where I wondered if I’d made a mistake.
At his two-week checkup, I told the vet all this. I didn’t want her to remove the cone because I thought he’d hurt himself. She could see for herself how he was behaving. She did some consultations with other staff and suggested that we take the cone off in the office for a few minutes to see what happens.
We removed the cone—and he INSTANTLY went back to his sweet, loving self. All the crashing around and fighting he had done was because he was scared—not of being blind, but of the cone.
That was a week ago, and since then we’ve been figuring out how to navigate together. We’ve been for walks in the woods, and field trips to Chow Hound and Must Love Dogs. I’ve taught him “step up” and “step down” and we’re working on “stop.” He can’t locate my voice very well, but he’s like a laser-guided missile when I snap my fingers to bring him to me.
Last night, I swear he even played a little prank on me. He acted like he was stuck in the backyard, so I went out in my pajamas to help him. When I got there, he jumped into a play bow and hopped all around, happy as could be, and definitely not stuck.
And today, I tried to get pictures of him eating a banana, but he ate the whole banana in one bite. No great pictures, but at least I have my Duke back!
Thank you to everyone who sent Duke and me support, love and even donations and dogsitting during this recovery. I know now that I did make the right decision. Duke has a lot of love, life and happiness left in him, and I have one of my bestest friends back. A silly, blind, beautiful Boxer who loves bananas. (And hates cones!)
Better with dog,