It can happen suddenly or gradually over time, but when a dog goes blind, it can be traumatic for them and their owners. But blind dogs can still have a good quality of life, and a new invention called the 'Halo Vest' may help them navigate the darkness.
Dorie Stratton of Atlanta knew 'Scotty Boy' was blind when she adopted him. But she couldn't stand watching him try to navigate his new home.
"He kept bumping into walls and crying and running in circles," Stratton said. "It was very sad and I didn't know what to do."
What she did was brainstorm with a seamstress friend.
"She said, 'I want something that will wrap around his body comfortably. Something that'll extend beyond his face to keep him from banging his nose," recalled Ellen Burgess.
Together they invented the Halo Vest, a vest that velcros on with a "halo" that circles the dog's head. It's made of strong plastic tubing and aluminum wire, so when the dog bumps into something, he or she glances off without getting hurt.
Stratton said she noticed the difference in Scotty Boy right away. "He was just happy. He was walking along and he'd hit a wall and he'd just turn away."
Stratton recently traveled to the Bay Area to adopt another Scottish terrier in need of a home. She saw him on Scottish Terrier Rescue of the Southeast's Facebook page and fell in love.
"He's 8 years old and he was found running the streets and he was in very poor health," she explained.
But Mickey's doing much better, and he's ready to model the Halo Vest. Stratton showed us how easy it is to slip his paws into it, Velcro it, and fasten it on the back. Tighten up the pull straps and he's ready to go.
The vest can be used on a leash, but Stratton says most people put it on their dogs when they're at home and off the leash.
What started out as a way to improve her dog's quality of life is fast turning into a full blown business. Stratton says orders are coming in from around the world, and every day she gets photos and e-mails from grateful owners.
"I get feedback from people thanking me for changing their dogs' life and helping them live a better life," Stratton added.
The Halo Vests range in price from $39 to $79 depending on size. There are instructions on how to measure your pet on their website, www.halosforpaws.com