Blind Chihuahua Overcomes Obstacles, Seeks New Home
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PRINCETON, N.J. – Broken promises have failed to break the spirit of Emily, a Chihuahua-Fox Terrier mix up for adoption after enduring a rough start to her life.
"Very, very affectionate and sweet, just like she is now,” is how Emily was found by Anne Trinkle of the rescue organization, Animal Alliance. “She jumped right in my lap and snuggled up."
Trinkle has been Emily’s temporary guardian for a few weeks. She was saved from euthanization at a Los Angeles shelter, and sent to a foster home in Utah sponsored by Best Friends Animal Shelter. A few months later, Emily was set to be adopted by a family more than 2,000 miles away.
That happy ending, however, was quickly derailed.
"She was on her way to a new home on the East Coast with a volunteer driver, when her new home changed their minds and they decided they didn't want to adopt her anymore,” Trinkle said. "She went from LA to Utah, then Utah to New Jersey, so she has logged a lot of miles."
Best Friends and Animal Alliance have been working together to find Emily a new home in New Jersey. Emily, though, is a special dog for reasons beyond her unorthodox journey –- because she is blind.
"On the surface, unless you are a veterinarian she looks totally normal,” Trinkle said. “So I thought maybe they made a mistake, maybe she's not blind."
Wanting to confirm Emily's blindness, Trinkle took her to Nassau Animal Hospital, where she was diagnosed with progressive retinal atrophy. Her eyes react to certain things but it is unclear how much she can truly see.
PRA is a genetic, inherited retinal disease which occurs in both eyes simultaneously. The disease is non painful, and there is no cure for it. The eyes are genetically programmed to go blind. PRA occurs in most breeds of dogs and can occur in mixed breeds.
Dogs with retinal degeneration are affected from one year to eight years of age and the symptoms progress slowly. The affected animal experiences night blindness initially, then the condition progresses to failed daytime vision.
"Over time the retina is losing its capacity to function,” said veterinarian Dr. Lesley Vannerson, who treated Emily. “I think she can see some, based on the fact that her pupils respond to light, but really not much. She probably will eventually be completely blind."
For animals with PRA, the outward appearance of the eye is often normal, showing no redness, excess tearing or squinting. Owners may notice a change in their dog’s personality, such as a reluctance to go down stairs or down a dark hallway. This is characteristic of night blindness, in which vision may appear to improve during the daytime.
Her condition, though, doesn't stop Emily from living life to the fullest.
"She's very adaptive like most blind dogs are,” Trinkle said. "Now we have the great responsibility of finding her the perfect home."
Emily’s condition should not deter anyone from adopting her, Vannerson says.
"The blindness is going to be a life-long problem,” Vannerson said. “But that doesn't mean that she's not adoptable. She could do very well in a home."
Asked what Emily might say if she could talk, Trinkle said, "Love is blind!"
For more information about Emily, you can contact animalalliancenj.org.
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