Blind dog receives chance at new life
BIG RAPIDS — Clarice, a female Chihuahua mix, is proving how resilient dogs can be when faced with a physical disability.
Clarice, who is between the ages of 5 and 7, was found as a stray and taken to the Animal Rescue Coalition of Mecosta County. Although ARC volunteers are unsure about the dog's past, they noticed her eyes were cloudy and saw she was in a lot of pain. Unfortunately, Clarice had become blind from glaucoma, a condition that can damage and destroy the eye's optic nerve.
"That's the worst thing ever, to know animals are in pain, and I don't want any animal ever to suffer for any reason," said ARC director Cate Arroe. "We took her to the vet and he said there wasn't anything we could do for the glaucoma and the only thing we could do to remove her pain was to remove her eyes."
The operation was performed and Arroe said she could tell Clarice's suffering had ended.
"She never cried, she was happy," she said. "I just think it immediately relived the pain she had had for a long time. "
Even without her eyes, Clarice acts like a dog without physical disabilities, using her senses of smell and hearing to guide her.
"This is not decreasing her quality of life at all," Arroe added. "She's used to walking around and not running into things. Her nose is first. She's not going to have an issue in the world."
In fact, Arroe took Clarice home for two nights following the surgery, and had no issue navigating a home she had never set her paws in. The bubbly canine is exceptionally calm, quiet, playful, affectionate and happy. She also loves to lay in laps and receive treats.
"She's happy as a lark," Arroe added. "People could say, 'oh, you shouldn't have done that,' or 'you should have euthanized the dog,' but she's playful if I go into the kennel and she's happy. She can't see, but that won't slow her down."
The stitches where her eyes used to be will soon be removed, and doses of pain medication ceased on Friday. Now, Clarice has been moved to the foster home of Paul and Mari-Anne Heidemann of Big Rapids until she is adopted. The couple is friends with Arroe, has past experience with dogs and were willing to temporarily welcome Clarice into their lives.
"Clarice is investigating the house and she's doing okay," said Mari-Anne. "I think it'll be fine. She's adorable."
Arroe believes Clarice will do best in a quiet home without small children and without pets that are uncomfortable with other dogs.
Clarice's unique case can spur feelings of pity, but individuals should not feel badly for this dog who is living her life to the fullest without the sense of sight, Arroe said.
"Clarice isn't sad because she has no eyes, she's sad because she's at the shelter instead of in a forever home," Arroe said. "I predict she's not going to be in foster care long. Someone will fall in love with her and then they've got themselves an angel."
The Animal Rescue Coalition is located at 18400 220th Ave., just north of the airport in Big Rapids. For more information or to schedule a visit with Clarice, call (231) 796-2683 or find ARC on Facebook.