When vet tech Jessica VanHusen’s 10-year-old dog lost both of her eyes to glaucoma, she became concerned that her quality of life would suffer. But she needn’t have worried, because Kiaya’s younger brothers became her seeing-eye dogs.
“It’s been wonderful. They’re my kids. It’s nice to see them step up.”
The Waterford, Michigan resident knew something was wrong when Kiaya began frequently squinting one eye.
“I found out she had glaucoma, which is increased pressure in her eyeball,” VanHusen told WXYZ.
“When Kiaya originally presented we started treatments for glaucoma,” said Dr. Michael West, a veterinary opthalmologist at BluePearl Veterinary Partners.
The medicine helped with the bad eye, but it was still painful, so it was decided that it should be removed. Then her other eye began to develop glaucoma and also had to be extracted. Yes, dogs lead with their noses, but how would she get around?
Easy – her brothers, eight-year-old Cass and two-year-old Keller, both rescue dogs – have made themselves her guides.
“They were kind of bookends to her,” VanHusen told ABC News. “They’re not fiercely protective but they’re always touching her. They’re really respectful of her.
“I think she would be lost without them. She relies on them. When they are coming in from the backyard they rub up against her. They guide her.”
Doctor Gwen Sila, who operated on Kiaya, was astonished by their actions.
“Her brothers are pretty amazing at the way they help to guide her around,” Sila said. “Each of them will stand on either side of her so she doesn’t bump into anything and lead her around the yard.”
“Cass definitely took the role upon himself to guide her around the yard which made me of course cry my eyes out,” VanHusen said. “It’s adorable.”
Keller, being the youngest, took a little longer to take on the nurse role, but is becoming more sensitive to Kiaya’s needs as he matures.
“Cass always allows Kiaya to get to her food dish first and waits for her to start eating,” VanHusen said. “When I take them in the car, he leans against her to keep her steady because she sometimes gets a little off kilter. He also loves to groom her.
“She lives in a dark world and is sunny.”