Monday, January 22, 2018

Jackson’s Eyes and Mine

In our family, we love dogs. At Mom’s house the two grandbabies are guarded by Jackson, her newest Sheltie, the fourth in a line of Shetland Sheepdogs, who finds it his duty to love and protect.

Collies and their kin, whether Rough Collies, Border Collies, Australian Sheepdogs, or Shetland Sheepdogs (nicknamed Shelties) are known for genetic eye problems.  Funny, so is our family.  The disease that struck my sight at 28 (Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy—LHON) destroys the optic nerves and affects the central vision.  Collie Eye Anomaly—CEA can cause detached retinas, optic nerve abnormalities, and loss of retinal cells.  The parallels between my eye disease and the genetic disease affecting Mom’s favorite dog breed is uncanny.

Years ago, Betty White held two Shetland Sheepdogs in a TV spot appealing for public donations for an animal charity and my mom fell in love with the breed.  That’s when Maggie, our first family dog, came into our lives.  She was a tri-colored beauty who lived from my 10th birthday until I was 20.

Following Maggie came Annie, sable colored like Lassie, and another tri-colored Sheltie, mostly black and smaller than the others:  Gus.  Annie and Gus were not from the same litter but proved inseparable pals for the ten years they kept Mom company.  All were such sweet, devoted, loving dogs that eventually succumbed to cancer of one sort or another—Gus being the last to go—until Jackson.

By the time Gus left Mom, most of my sight had left me.  Mom said she just knew the Sheltie with the genetically mutated eyes, one brown and one bright blue, was the next pup for her! And so Jackson with the different eyes, like mine are different, came to love and be loved by all of us. Mom said her daughter’s eyes and her doggie’s eyes both see right into her heart.

Thanks, Mom, for teaching us to love dogs and one another, regardless.

#LHON #LebersHereditaryOpticNeuropathy #ShetlandSheepdog #Sheltie #Collieeyeanomaly