What Happened to Odin’s Eye?

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I asked in a previous blog post what you guys would do in my position: go ahead with an experimental surgery and medication regime requiring a one-year commitment to the medication – and which, if it didn’t work, would still result in the loss of his eye – OR, just go ahead and have Odin’s eye removed now, putting an end to his 12 daily doses of various medications and discomfort. I really appreciated every single comment and suggestion! They made me cry more than once and I seriously considered each and every one.

Keep in mind that Odin is still, officially and legally, a foster dog who belongs to my local shelter, the Northwest SPCA. So while I have fostered him since he was about six weeks old, when I took he and his mange-covered, starving littermates out of the shelter to care for them, the management of the shelter had the final say. They have given me tremendous latitude with my foster puppies’ care, and probably wouldn’t flat-out override any decisions I made unless it was clear I had lost my mind (which, folks, can happen in the land of rescue and fostering! There is new evidence about this almost daily; see here and here and here, as just a few recent examples.) But of course I have discussed Odin’s situation with the shelter staff at every step along our journey so far.

The opinion of the shelter veterinarian and the manager? Let’s end the poor little guy’s discomfort and let him go on to live his life without daily medications and monthly trips to the veterinary hospital at UC Davis. And in the end, I agreed.

Enucleation surgery

So a week ago on Wednesday, I took Odin to the shelter and, tears in my eyes, put him in one of the cages in the recovery room, so he could await his turn for surgery (he was second on the list for the day, right after a spaniel who had a tumor on her abdomen and another on her tail that needed removal). About four hours later, the RVT called me to let me know that Odin was recovered enough to go home with me and that he’d need to spend the rest of the day being very quiet, come back in a week to 10 days to have stitches removed, and stay in a cone for about three weeks, to allow everything to heal without complications.

He was still groggy when I picked him up and carried him to my car, and I lifted him out of the car at home, too, although when I put him down, he walked out onto my lawn and peed like a good boy. Then I carried him into the house and put him on the couch, got a blanket and book, and told my husband that we’d be camped out there together for the rest of the day. He had been given pain meds (and I had more pain medication and antibiotics to give him for the next week) and whined under his breath on and off all afternoon. I felt horrible.


We all had to adjust to the cone, not just Odin!

I also felt extremely guilty for not putting a cone on him before surgery to acclimate him to wearing one when he was not in pain. I hadn’t thought of it until I dropped him off for surgery and the RVT mentioned he would need to wear one afterward, to make sure he didn’t bump, rub, or scratch at the delicate area as it healed. Duh! I should have prepared him – because I think that learning to navigate with the cone was the worst part of his next 36 hours or so. On his first foray off the couch, the edge of the cone got caught on the edge of the coffee table, and he cried out and scrambled in a panic to escape the noise and bending of the cone. Then he froze, whining, and wouldn’t even try to walk or move again. So, for his first potty, I carried him out the door and past all the obstacles on my front porch, only putting him down on the open expanse of the lawn. Even so, he looked down and the edge of the cone caught on the grass and he just sat down, disconsolate.

An alternative to the dog cone

That’s when – again, late to the party – I thought of Rex Specs, a ski-goggles-type of eye protection. I got online and ordered some, paying for expedited shipping (although I was frustrated because there was no way to order some to be delivered within one or two days). I had seen Rex Specs at pet product trade shows, and they seemed like they would be perfect for protecting the surgery site without the bother of the cone, with a curved shape that fits dogs’ faces, soft padding all around the frames, an innovative venting system that keeps them from getting steamed up, and fairly secure straps that hold them on. Unlike a cone, they would also allow Odin to chew a rawhide or bone or food-stuffed Kong to help occupy his quiet time. (Dogs need their paws to chew things! They just can’t do this with a cone on!)

I did take a pair of sharp kitchen scissors and cut down the cone a bit – about an inch and a half all the way around – so that it still protected his whole face but didn’t require quite so much room for him to get around without bashing on furniture, door frames, and the legs of everyone else who lives in our house. Even so, Otto in particular took to scrambling away from Odin every time he looked like he might walk nearby.

Making the cone a tad smaller helped Odin navigate later, but for those first 36 hours, I had to take the cone off every time I thought he might have to potty. As soon as he was freed from it, he would trot right out and take care of business. I’d let him eat without it on, and put it back again. He was sad enough about it that it kept him quiet and laying on the couch or the giant dog bed in the living room.


Odin, Ricky, and Woody: Mom says, “Go play, but don’t have too much fun!” Woody mopes, “What’s the point?!”

I spent that day working outside at home – mowing the pasture, trimming shrubs, fixing sprinklers, and so on. I was also supervising the activity of Woody and a friend’s dog, Ricky. Ricky’s owner had knee surgery that day, and he’s a young and boisterous dog who requires a lot of exercise to behave, so I offered to bring him to my house to exercise daily for a few days. He and Woody ran and wrestled and dug for gophers and stayed active all day long.

Time to play

Friday, after pottying outside, breakfast, and medication administration, I put Odin’s cone back on, got him settled on the couch, and headed outside for another day of yardwork. Almost immediately I heard him scratching at the door and howling up a storm. Since my husband works at home, this wouldn’t do. I let him come outside, and put a leash on him, and convinced him to settle near me as I worked. This is when he finally started getting used to moving around with the cone, and not freaking out when it jabbed or caught on things.

On Saturday, I had Ricky back for the day (he had been tired enough after Thursday’s play to sleep for most of Friday). Between this distraction/excitement and Odin’s growing competence with the cut-down cone, all semblance of “keeping Odin quiet” went out the window. It was a frustrating day for Odin and for me. I split the day between supervising bouts of slightly restrained play between the three young dogs outside (with Odin’s cone on), and giving him food-stuffed frozen Kongs and giant rawhide chews to work on inside, with his cone off and me watching him like a hawk to keep him from getting up and walking around (perhaps bumping the surgery site) or taking a casual swipe at the itchy, healing area with a hind paw. It was nerve-wracking!


Trying on the Rex Specs

By the time the Rex Specs arrived on Monday, Odin was a total cone-pro – they weren’t really necessary anymore. But I thought they would be an improvement, nonetheless: He could finally stop bashing into all of our legs with the dang cone, and enjoy chewing things, while keeping the eye-site protected. But they haven’t been the panacea I was hoping for. Unless you make the straps really tight, he can still paw them out of place – and making the straps super tight puts more pressure on his face than can possibly be good for the healing area, and obviously makes him more conscious of the goggles than I’d like him to be. Still, if I can get him to wear them without pawing at them, secured with a normal amount of tightness, I think they would offer greater protection of the surgery site and less discomfort than the cone. So I am putting them on him for short sessions while he does supervised, enjoyable, distracting activities, like eating meals, working on food-stuffed Kongs, following Woody around our fenced two acres, and so on.

Healing from the surgery

As far as the surgery itself: The site is healing beautifully. I have to say that I think Odin is super happy to not have to submit to having eye medication administered 12 times a day. I also think that having the vision-impaired (but not completely blind) eye removed has actually helped him see better. Since his initial eye injury, he’s always had a strange, slightly upright posture and squinty expression when he tried to see things that are far away. I notice that his posture and expression is softer and more relaxed now when he’s looking at things that are more than 20 feet away; it’s just a guess, based on a careful study of his posture, but I think he can see things way better with his single good eye than he could with the same eye paired with the edema- and scar-tissue filled eye. He looks less like a meercat and more like a regular dog when he watches the world going by out my windows. I am thinking the surgery was the right thing to do.

He will get his stitches out in a couple of days, and wear the cone and/or goggles for a couple more weeks. When all his hair is grown back, we will start trying to find him a perfect home.

Thanks again for your interest in little Odin. He’s a fun, special little guy and I’ve learned so much from having him. ** About the eyeball itself: The veterinarian who did the surgery put it into formalin to preserve it. Next week, on my next trip through that area, I’m going to take it to Davis so the ophthalmologist at the university veterinary teaching hospital who has been helping Odin can dissect it. It will be interesting to hear her report when that happens.

55 COMMENTS

  1. I am so happy to hear that Odin had his eye removed. It will make a huge difference in his life. He is such a great dog. I wish him a speedy recovery. It would be so hard to see him leave. When its time I hope he gets the family he deserves.

  2. I believe you made the right decision to have the surgery. Bless you for all your rescue work and best wishes for the future. Please post any info about the eye; I like to stay up to date on the latest vet news.

  3. I think you made the right choice to have surgery. He sounds like he’s so much happier,

    My Golden Retriever, Indy, recently had a tumor ( benign) removed from just below his mouth on one side. The huge, hard, plastic cone lasted about 3 hours. He wouldn’t even walk! I purchase a flexible cone at our local pet store. He wore it for almos two weeks and acclimated to it quickly. How could eat and drink with it on. He’s completely healed now.

  4. I think you made the right choice to have surgery. He sounds like he’s so much happier,

    My Golden Retriever, Indy, recently had a tumor ( benign) removed from just below his mouth on one side. The huge, hard, plastic cone lasted about 3 hours. He wouldn’t even walk! I purchased a flexible cone at our local pet store. He wore it for almos two weeks and acclimated to it quickly. He could eat and drink with it on. He’s completely healed now.

  5. They make soft cones (the comfy cone is the one I use) that you can buy and also blow up inflatables donuts (inflatable dog collar by many different companies-cannot remember which brand I have) that work better and are nicer for dogs. I hate the old plastic cones and my dogs become more tramautized (no matter how much you get them used to it) so we went with alternatives. They work well. Yeah Odin for being such a trooper.

    • Those inflatable cones are great for surgeries on the body or limbs, but if the surgery is on the face they can still rub it or scratch it. I recently purchased a flexible cone to keep my Indy from scratching or rubbing the surgery site below his mouth. It worked well!

      • I agree also. I would not be able to part with him, he is adorable.
        Thank you for ll of the care you have given him.

        • I agree also. He loves you and you love him. He is such a good dog,
          even in the way he sits when you take his picture. Please don’t do
          anything hastily. You must be exhausted and that could affect your decision.
          Thank you for posting the updates .

  6. You have always done the best for your own pups, and your fosters. I know you made the right decision Odin. You should have no regrets, or what ifs. The world needs more folks like you, Nancy❣️ I like others that have commented, I hope you keep him. He is so bonded and attached to you, I fear he will go through a very stressful period of adjustment with a new family.

    Thank you for all you do for animals, and for Whole Dog Journal. I have been a subscriber for at least 20 yrs., and still have all my copies!

  7. It sounds like you don’t regret your decision, and you obviously thought long and hard about it. Sweet Odin is beautiful, and the picture of him captured my heart. He seems to be doing very well. I don’t envy your having to say “good-bye” to each other, though. Thank you for keeping us abreast of Odin’s ongoings! I love reading about him. I, too, have used the inflatable collars on my dogs. My smaller dogs seem to do better with them than the bugger ones.

  8. I think you’ve done the very best for him. I’ve recently had to give my girl eye drops and she hates it so I was thinking of you. Well done. Odin will be absolutely fine and happy and now neither of you have to worry about those damn eye drops!!

  9. Yes, I hate those post-surgery hours when all they can do is stand around and whine until the drugs wear off enough for them to sleep. And the cones are terrible, too. But we make a big deal out of them the dogs get lots of praise and treats and we decorate them with stickers and markers and call them crash helmets so that everyone smiles when they see the dog wearing one. It’s still awkward and uncomfortable but they’re also sort of proud to be wearing one and are a little less stressed about it.

  10. I am glad you had the eye removed. I did not offer my opinion previously, but having had an older dog with serious eye problems in both eyes, administering numerous medication drops/salve on a timely basis , even during the night, for weeks, it was miserable for him and us. I was frantic to keep on schedule using timers/alarms as reminders. The poor dog became almost zombie like, we were always interrupting his sleep and whatever he was doing.
    I feared a new owner for Odin would not follow through with those medications which were so important. It really takes dedication.
    Odin will adapt. Speedy recovery ! Melissa

    • That is truly unkind. She has spent weeks, if not months, trying to do the right thing. This was certainly NOT “quick and dirty!”

      • how do we report a STUPID comment like that one?? I tried to post a reply but dont really want to give my name and email out as this person is obviously an unbalanced idiot

    • Really? You’re gonna judge her on this? Do you even know the back story? “Quick and dirty process”?? They’ve been battling this since November, spending huge amounts of money and even MORE time trying to keep him comfortable and save his eye. Don’t you think he deserves to be pain-free finally? I would rather have no eye and no pain than an eye that hurt constantly and was visionless. This wasn’t some “Oh, this is too expensive and time consuming” decision. It was a quality of life decision. This puppy has never known life without discomfort. Now he will, without waiting another YEAR for it to “possibly” heal (though most likely he would lose it in the end anyway).

      Nancy, you did so much for him and the rest of the litter. Don’t doubt your decision even for a second. Give Odin a big kiss from me.

    • I think it would be a good idea if someone checked the comments before they were posted publicly. Some months ago there were some “political” comments posted about WAG.com. I thought that was also quite inappropriate. This should be all about DOGS not mordant comments about other people or things!

  11. I also applaud your dedication and humanity. My dog also had his eye out which was so traumatic (for me!). The soft cones are the only way to go. They have wires in them or you can take them out and they are softer. kCan turn then down to eat. I would never use the cone anymore.

    • Wow, aren’t we snarky. I last Min Pin had had a serious accident that resulted in him losing his left eye, this happened before I adopted him. He (Hercules) did great, dog are very resourceful.
      Odin’s life has been improved by the surgery. Now he can get on with just being a happy, pain free, and loved dog.

  12. I truly believe you did the right thing for Odin. I intended to write when you reached out earlier for comments but decided that since so many other folks had done so I would not. We have owned two dogs with eye issues – one who was born blind at birth, and the other who at age 11 developed an eye problem where his opthamologist was able to save his eye but not his sight in that eye. Both dogs did great and I am sure Odin will as well. Thanks for all you do!!!

  13. Was it glaucoma ? If so a lot of people dont know that my pup had a method from her eye Dr. which was not only cheaper , less invasive , less painful, only 10 minutes under anesthesia, (took her home in 1 hour) ,only a few weeks of eye drops afterwards & no cones ! They just knocked her out for the few minutes & my Vet inserted a needle in her eyes & injected a medication to stop the production of fluid . Totally successful procedure

  14. Our pug Buster Brown was rescued after almost being starved to death by an uncaring owner. He thrived after I got him but he developed an tumor in his eye and I had to have the eye removed. He did great and traveled everywhere with us from NJ to Texas.
    His being pain free was my best reward. God bless all who rescue and foster our friends

  15. You did the right thing to have the surgery. Dog lives are so short as it is – one good eye and and a good medication free life was the best choice. I think you have already found the perfect loving home for him. What a great life he would have with you!

  16. I didn’t see your before-surgery post or I would have written right away. One of my little poodles had to have an eye removed (long story) and I grieved horribly over it. The first few days after surgery I did nothing but cry. BUT! Penny didn’t seem to mind at all and adjusted beautifully. She never even acted like she only had one eye. She never turned her head sideways like she was trying to get a full scan of everything, never bumped into anything … she just went about her life as usual. Dogs are wonderful at adjusting to what is, and my little poodle taught me a valuable lesson.
    Regarding the cone … there is another type of cone available now that is like a cushioned doughnut that is worn around the neck. Soft and comfortable and the dog is able to maneuver around more easily in it. Check it out. Best of everything to you and Odin! …. Patti

  17. The soft cone is best. I have three rescues who live with us. Two Labs and a Husky. All are senors now, 2 are 10 and one is 12. Needless to say over the years cones have been needed. The plastic cones are as much a problem for us as for the dogs. Our last two cone needs were met with the soft cones. Dogs do not mind them (much) and they do protect the face areas from rubbing and scratching as well as the rest of the body. The best thing is they can eat and chew with them on and if they catch on something they just flex away.

  18. Pipe insulation which can be found at home depot helps immensely. It is split down the middle which has adhesive to hold it to the cone. For dogs,it protects foot injuries. For us humans, it protects the backs of our legs.

  19. I had a foster dog with just one eye (glaucoma) and he did just fine. Dogs are amazing in that they really don’t know they are “disabled.” I fully agree with those who supported this decision and also that Odin is a very lucky guy.

  20. Smart decision. Great outcome. Was happy to see this update on Odin. The photo of him post-enucleation with stitches still in place brought back memories of our Chocolate Lab, Sounder. Odin will not be hard to place. I, personally, am a sucker for the unwanted, senior, or special needs animal. I’m sure there are many others out there who feel the same. Though missing one eye, to me, doesn’t fall under any of those categories. Odin is indeed special though and he will thrive now without that bothersome eye. He is perfect! I love that the eye which was removed will be examined. Looking forward to reading about those findings.

  21. My little Riley, a 6 year old Yorkie, had an accident and had to have her eye taken out. Oh, it was sad and I cried but she’s happy and healthy and acts like nothing ever happened that terrible evening 3 years ago. Good luck with your precious baby….he will survive better that you!

  22. While I wasn’t a fan of having Odin’s eye removed, I am very happy to hear that everything is going well for him and for you, Nancy. Thank you for the information on Rex’s Specs, too, in case we ever need them. While not perfect, they sound a lot better than traditional cones. You and Odin will remain in my prayers. Please keep all of us updated. Thanks.

  23. As a rescuer I foster a lot of dogs, much like you do. While I understand the special bond you develope with the dogs, some stronger than others, I also understand the joy of adopting to another family. You will always love him. No one takes that away from you. You continue to love him, where ever he is. You have worked very hard with him and you two have been thru a lot, and you have been very successful in guiding him to be the best he can be. The wonderful feeling you get when you hand him over to his new family and watch as they bond, knowing you are changing his life and their lives, all for the better, for me overcomes the pain of parting. When they share their stories with me about how much they love him and how happy he is, it makes my heart sing. The best thing is that now there is room to foster another dog, to develope a new relationship, a special love, and bless another family with an awesome dog. It really is a win, win, win, all the way around.

  24. I was hoping this would be your decision! Dogs don’t understand one eye vs two, they understand pain and discomfort. Bravo for coming to this conclusion! Best wishes Odin on your search for a new home; someone is going to be very lucky!

  25. Nancy, I too applaud all you do for your pups and others! I also know you have a lot on your plate, more than I can handle any longer.

    Odin is so happy with you, and your know he adores Woody! I can’t imagine how he would feel losing the only home he has ever known, his best friend Woody, and his loving Mama Nancy! I’m praying you decide to keep him!

    On another note, what kind of dog is Ricki? From the picture he looks like part Dobie or Belgian Malinois?? Beautiful, whatever breed!

  26. In 1999, I adopted a dog from an animal shelter who had a punctured eye. I had to argue with the shelter staff, who didn’t want to let me adopt him because he was still officially on a 3-day stray hold, but they finally let me take him to my vet only after I promised to return him if his owners came to claim him. I found out later that his owners had come before I did, and when they saw him with his punctured eye, left him there. I only intended to keep Chance until he was healthy because I already had 2 other dogs that I adopted within that same year and wasn’t ready for a 3rd. I just couldn’t stand to see him suffer in the shelter with his damaged eye, so I intended to foster him until he was healthy. I took him to see my vet, who gave me eye drops, eye ointment, and pain meds for him and had us return a few days later. When the eye didn’t show any improvement, my vet referred us to a veterinary opthalmologist, who thought the eye was intentionally punctured, and not by another animal, and couldn’t be saved. He was already blind in that eye. My vet removed Chance’s eye, and after the initial pain from the surgery wore off, and when he no longer had to wear the dreaded cone, it was obvious that he felt so much better. I never regretted removing Chance’s eye because it ended his suffering, and I never thought that only having 1 eye slowed him down at all. He instantly bonded with my other 2 dogs, especially my retriever, Shadow, who was only 2 months older. Those 2 became inseparable and of course, I ended up keeping him.

    Chance died 12 years later when he was 12 1/2 from cancer and it was devastating for me and Shadow. She missed him terribly because by then my 1st dog had already died and it was just the 2 of them. Shadow died less than a year after Chance, and I’d swear it was because she missed her brother.

    I’ve been following Odin’s story since he and his siblings were first found, and I’ve been hoping for a long time that you would end his suffering and choose to remove his eye. He can finally heal, and it sounds like you already see his fun puppy side more now. That’s exactly what happened to Chance.

    Please, please please keep Odin! I know that you want to spend more time with Otto, and you can especially do that when Odin is healed and he and Woody can play together like crazy. It’s obvious that the 2 of them are so bonded and would miss each other. You would give Odin the best home ever, and Woody would get to keep his best bud. Please consider that. The bond I saw between Chance and Shadow was one of the best things I ever experienced with my pets.

  27. I think you are the greatest Mom?foster Mom in the world. what you hacve been through with this little guy is beyond the realm of most peoples abilities. He is so loved the eye is of little consequence(check out PINKPIGLETPUPPY) who have neither sight or hearing if you want to wittness a dog who has adapted to major handicaps. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of all the little pups that need you. XXXOOO

  28. I have kept up with Odin throughout and am glad you decided to take the eye out. I had a one eye poodle and it never seemed to bother her. On another note, I hope you keep Odin. You have invested so much in him and he is your baby. No one else will ever know the depth of your devotion. He knows it. He will allow you the time you need with Otto. He is home now and I hope he stays.

  29. I truly believe you all made the right choice for Odin! He will finally be able to be pain free and enjoy puppyhood. This has been an incredible saga to follow and many of us readers so so admire you. We have fallen in love with sweet Odin, but I can see that Odin is in love with you and Woody. It would add to his pain to be parted with a family he loves so much! My prayers have been and will continue to include you and your family, furry and otherwise.

  30. Dear Nancy, I have been following the saga of Odin and am so happy that you made the right decision for his eye. Akk thise meds and vet/ hospital visits were too much. Now he will be a happy little dog who can romo and play. I do hope you keep him as he must be so bonded with you after all your loving care and attention.
    Best wishes to you both. Thanks for what you have done for this puppy.

  31. I don’t think Odin will adjust to another home or another person I think he’s so attached to you I would just really consider keeping him bless you

    • Bless you for loving him through all of this. In the end, after agonizing through all the options and what-ifs, you made (and will make) the best decision possible for him. That’s all any of us can do for our dogs.

  32. I am so glad to read that you had the enucleation done. I honestly think it was your best option for both the short and long term. I am hoping to read one day that you adopted him!

  33. As Odin is a foster dog yes you made the right decision. Not many potential adopters will commit to a year of costly medication. I hope that you decide to adopt Odin.
    Nancy

  34. Curious, why did the vet not recommend a prosthetic eye? I would think it would be less startling and increase adoption potential. Not sure of adoption culture, maybe it varies in different regions.

  35. You made the right decision for Ordin! Being he is a Foster dog that’s the best thing for him.
    It takes all animals as well as humans time to adjust. God Bless you for caring for him and worrying about tiding the right things with his best interest, He’s Blessed to have you taking care of him! Hope he gets a Forever Home soon!💜💕

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