The Burden of Blindness

Blind and abandoned double merle Lily and her seeing eye guide dog Maddison.

There are very few homes equipped to adopt one Great Dane, let alone two. Add in advanced age and congenital blindness, and it’s not surprising that the former owners just couldn’t handle the onus any more and ditched blind Lily and her seeing-eye-dog Maddison at the shelter.

When illness forced vets to remove Great Dane Lily’s eyes, the prospects of a fulfilling life didn’t look good. But then no one had reckoned on her pal Maddison stepping in to turn guide dog. The pair have been inseparable for years but now find themselves looking for a new home because their owner could no longer cope. The catch for anyone interested is that the Great Danes come as a package. They have been waiting at the Dogs Trust re-homing centre in Shrewsbury since July.

Lily, six, was barely a puppy when she was struck down by a condition that caused her eyelashes to grown into her eyeballs, damaging them beyond repair. It was after this traumatic event that her relationship with seven-year-old Maddison developed as she took her under her wing. The best buddies lived together until their owners decided they couldn’t look after them any more. Miss Campbell said: ‘With her lack of sight, Lily’s other senses have heightened so although we don’t split them up often she can tell if Maddison is nearby.

“They curl up together to go to sleep and they are very vocal with each other. We haven’t analysed their different barks but if Lily wants to go forward and Maddison is in her way, the bark will have a different pitch. They are very close to one another and enjoy each other’s company.”

This is the burden created by breeders who mate merle to merle, merle to harlequin, and harlequin to harlequin.  They afflict their puppies and the big hearted owners who adopt them with a lifetime concern.  Dealing with a blind puppy might pull at the heart strings enough, but compassion fatigue and mounting veterinary bills can quickly make the prospect of caring for two middle aged or geriatric dogs more burden than bliss.

Before you start judging the owners, realize that up 80% of parents with special needs children divorce due to the stress.  It takes extraordinary people to care for a special needs child or pet, but it only takes one uninformed or callous breeder to create them and flood the local community’s ability to cope.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.