Blind Golden Retriever Mistaken For Guide Dog Has 'Guide Human'
Good boy Tao had to have both his eyes removed separately due to painful glaucoma, with the second operation happening just eight weeks.
The adaptable ten-year-old has already made incredible progress, with owner Melanie Jackson - known as Mel - calling her pet 'amazing'.
Mel says she was first alerted to a problem with Tao's eyesight last year when he appeared to be in pain.
She took Tao to the vet, who told her he had glaucoma and the decision was made to operate and the remove the eye.
Sadly, 11 months later, his second eye also had to be removed.
Mel, from Shepton Mallet, Somerset, said: "Glaucoma is the build-up of fluid in the eye - it's got nowhere to drain away.
"If you can imagine a migraine and times it by a hundred - that was the pain he was in.
"It began in February 2019 - we had a normal morning. Everything was absolutely fine.
"But you just know when the dog is not his normal self. By the night, he was in the most pain I have ever seen so we took him to the vets.
"He was scratching his face. I said: 'You are going to think I'm mad - but Tao has lost his sight'.
"The pressure was so high in his eye. We didn't have any other choice but to have the eye removed.
"Then, after a thorough examination, I was made aware that he had it in his second eye.
"So, we monitored it every day, but then he started going in and out of blindness. It wasn't fair.
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"The word [I would use to describe Tao] would be confused. He was in a lot of pain."
After his second eye was removed earlier this year, Mel was concerned about how he would get on, but he's taken the whole thing in his stride.
Mel added: "He is amazing. He's so well trained - he listens to every command. He can go off-lead and waits if you are by a road.
"If people are coming, he gets close to me and if there's other dogs off their lead he will be aware of that.
"He does everything that we have always done.
"But because he's a golden retriever and wears a sleeve on his lead saying 'Blind K9' people assume I must be the one that's blind.
"They say, 'He must be good for you.' I say, 'No, I'm his guide human!'
"We have sensory mats made of hessian by the doors now, so he knows when he's going out.
"He uses the textures to feel his way around the house.
"He doesn't jump hedges anymore and tends to stay closer to me now, but he loves his walks.
"He has a good, happy life. He trusts his 'mum' completely."
Mel now wants to raise awareness of glaucoma in dogs in hopes of preventing other pets from suffering.
She said: "People who are going to buy puppies - ask the question.
"It's taken an immense amount of time and training to get him to this point."
Mel has worked with The Kennel Club, who used Tao's DNA 'marker' to help identify other dogs prone to glaucoma - a preventable condition if diagnosed early enough.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS