Life With a Blind Shih Tzu

Heidi, Zeus, Sydney, and Lexis

Zeus’ best friend is Sydney, my foster dog. They love to play. It is so funny to watch!

When I first met Zeus, Shih Tzu, he was very aggressive to me, but never bit. He would bark and bark and lunge at me. In fact, I nick named him Chucky, because he just had his eye surgery and he reminded me of Chucky.

Zeus lives with a female shih tzu, Heidi; a staffy/lab/shepherd/? mix, Sydney (foster); and until recently, Lexi, my golden. And a few of the feline persuasion. Heidi does a walk-through on the video. Lexis is chillin’ on the couch.

Zeus was fostered and quickly adopted by my daughter in January 2013. He had a hard first year of life. His humans would not get medical care for his eyes and dumped him at the shelter. He was scheduled for euthanasia, labeled as aggressive. Holly’s Garden Rescue stepped in on his last day and saved him.

Zeus was taken to the vet where he had one eye removed due to retinal detachment. The vet said this was due to being shaken. He has 10% vision in his other eye. He needed eye drops daily and came into my home after his surgery.

Poor little Zeus had been through a lot of trauma and just needed some TLC. He quickly became good friends with Sydney and they love to play. They are close to the same age, but huge difference in size.

He is now a happy, loving, well-adjusted dog, no more Chucky. He doesn’t need his eye drops. He does bark at people or other dogs that come in the house still, but not on a crazy rampage as before. He loves to cuddle. Goes out to potty by himself.

Zeus is treated like the other dogs. He is not coddled because he is ‘special needs’. Although there are special things that need to be done for him, like keep the furniture in the same place. If I do move the furniture, I show him where it has moved to, but there are no major changes.

When Zeus first got here, it was so funny to watch him jump on the couch. He would jump about a foot higher than he needed to. Now he has it down. I have to watch if I am eating around him, because he might jump right in my plate. 🙂 He still bumps into things, coffee table, chair, dog, occasionally but he eventually gets to where he is going. I use to tease my daughter and say we might need to get him a helmet.

The other dogs quickly learned that Zeus has a tendency to bump into them. I wonder if they know he is blind? I think they do. My Lexi, always laid back, never minded. She would just look at him. Sydney just thought it was funny and wanted to play. Heidi, the picky one doesn’t like it. She is also the alpha of the house.

Before I pet Zeus or pick him up, I tell him I am there. Even when I tell him I am there, he has a tendency to back up when I pick him up.

He listens for the dog tags of the other dogs in the house and has learned the dogs by the sound of their tags. Sydney  doesn’t have tags, but you can hear her coming a mile away!

When it is feeding time, somehow he always knows, even when he is in another room. I use kibble, holistic kibble. He will come running and/or start barking. Shih Tzus have a rep for barking, but Heidi very seldom ever barks and when she does, it is very soft.But the strange thing is when I give Zeus his bowl, I have to put the food right under his nose.

Zeus walks really well on a leash around the block. You would never know he is blind. We tried tethering him to Heidi, but Heidi doesn’t really care for that. After about a block, Zeus lays down and refuses to walk any more. Heidi was rescued 4 years ago, abused and abandoned, and still has some issues about certain things. When Zeus is not on a leash, he will walk for much longer, but we constantly talk to him. And he will follow.

Zeus also does what I call ‘scanning’. He looks in your direction and moves his head up and down like a document being scanned. I think he is trying to focus on us with his 10% vision. He does not do this with objects, only people. I still find it a bit creepy. ♥

Lexis and Zeus

Zeus and Friend

I am so glad Zeus was saved and his life did not end at the age of one. This is why I do not understand behavior assessments at shelters! Clearly this poor little Shih Tzu was traumatized, no telling what all his humans did to him, dumped in a shelter, could not see, examined by a number of people. Well yes, he is going to be reactive and aggressive! I believe shelters think it easier to kill the dog than take the time for TLC. That’s all it took!

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5 thoughts on “Life With a Blind Shih Tzu

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