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Hi everyone,

I was hoping to find some comfort, assurance and information from the great people on here. Sorry for the long post, but please allow me to bring you up to speed....

Cosmo is our 5 year old maltese (born 4/1/05). He's such a great companion and friend. We have always taken very good care of Cosmo and would even travel around to visit out of town family. Cosmo has been an only 'child' as we moved around quite a bit. Well, as life would have it, our daughter was born at the end of December 2009. That's when things changed for everyone.
I followed every trick in the book to get Cosmo acclimated to the homecoming of the baby. He seemed curious, but really missed mom more. As first-time parents, our lives had changed dramatically. As expected, we operated on 'baby time'. This effectively ended our regular routine.
Cosmo's behavior started changing. He was no longer 'happy' and his tail was down, but not tucked under. We thought it would be an adjustment. He would lick her ears and toes and even sleep in her bouncer -- so cute. He has never shown any aggression towards her, ever.
Cosmo is housetrained so we were surprised to find small bits of poo around. Very unusual but we thought we may be depressed/anxious over being below the new baby. He started drooling, his appetite increased (searching outside and munching), amount fed stayed the same but his weight had increased. No peeing accidents (yet). Then I noticed Comso struggling down the stairs! At first I thought his hind-quarters were bothering him, but he showed no limp or reaction to maneuvering his legs/paws. Others thought it was an attempt at attention.
We took him to the vet for the full workup and x-rays. Nothing -- absolutely nothing of significance that would help. We were told that he may develop some arthritis down the road in the right hind leg, but that's all the images showed (apparently.) Examination of his eyes shows normal behavior and no cataracts. Blood work only showed slightly elevated cholesterol. We were given and nsaid to help his leg. Didn't help. I was convinced Cosmo was struggling to see. He was clumsy and bumping into things all of a sudden.
On 4/21/10, we took Cosmo to the Ophthalmologist. She confirmed what was suspected....Cosmo was blind. But why? The vet performed an ERG and confirmed that Cosmo has SARDs. We are heartsick for him. We cry and cry. We have no idea what happened or why. But we were told that there is no known definitive cause of Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration! The ophthalmologist told us that the disease is strictly a vision-condition which is not treatable or curable.
I feel so terrible that our Cosmo has to go through this and did it alone for about a month. But there is no time for sulking now - we are trying to help and get up to speed on everything we can do to improve his quality of life. I would say he seems very happy outside on walks around the neighborhood, but we want to understand what may lie ahead. Does anyone have any advice or experience in dealing with SARDs? We appreciate all of your help!
Thanks so much!
 

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i am so saddened to hear that this happened to cosmo , he is adorable by the way . im pretty sure someone here will have some advice for you , i am glad though that he has a family like you that will help him thru this time in his life , i am sure that he will be happy regardless being that he has loving caring parents. ((hugs))
 

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Yes...your dog should be tested for Cushing's disease as that can cause SARDs. Otherwise dogs adjust to being blind quite well...it just takes them a little time. You can help by not moving your furniture around and keeping him away from stairs.
 

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I also have a boy named Cosmo. I don't have any advice for you; I just wanted to let you know how very sorry I am. He is a beautiful boy and I'm sure with lots of love will learn to adjust. You both will be in my prayers.
 

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I am so sorry to hear about Cosmo. I am so glad you are so attentive to his needs and found a diagnosis quickly. I know you will do your best to give him the best quality of life possible. I will pray for you and your family as you adjust to his blindness.
 

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Since the blindness is not reversible there is really not much you can do. I work at a vet hospital and I see a lot of pets with eye problems and ultimately have both eyes removed. The dogs come back for check ups and they often seem fine. Cosmo will have to adjust slowly to it.. Unlike humans, dog's don't feel sorry for themselves..they just try to adjust and find ways to do things in order to survive. I am sure cosmo is a tough cookie and will eventually become used to the condition and find ways to be happy again. Since sweet Cosmo lost his eye sight, he will probably have enhanced smell and hearing. Keep that in mind. Try to keep everything exactly where it is and spend time with him going through the house to teach him how to get to his food and water, bed, etc. All he needs is your love and he will be happy. I am sorry there is not much anybody can say to help..Cosmo is absolutely adorable and i wish you your family the best.
 

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Here is a link to a great article about SARDS, possible underlying causes, and possible treatments. The article is very long but worth reading:
SARDS Article Page 1 | Dr. Alfred J. Plechner, DVM

As for the blindness, Grace, my 11 yr. old, is blind now. It happened over the course of a year due to glaucoma and subsequent cataracts. The vet opthamologist recommended not removing the cataracts because of the underlying glaucoma. I had a visit with my own eye doctor recently and was telling him about Grace. He really made me feel better in that he explained that blind people still see, they don't see shapes or color, but they do see shadow and gradation of light. Grace gets around fine, knows where the potty pad is, where the furniture is, where the toys are, and where her food and water are. The only change in our routine is that I no longer leave the door to the basement open if I go down to do laundry. And I carry her up the stairs at bedtime and down the stairs in the morning. I don't move furniture around ... but that's an easy one since I haven't moved furniture in years anyway! Cosmo sounds like he is adjusting well. And you guys sound like great great doggy parents.
 

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Thank you all for reaching out so quickly. Twinkle -- Thanks. We are aware the condition cannot be treated and I'm sure the humans are taking it harder than Cosmo. We plan on testing for Cushings-I hope it's negative since he just turned 5. We'll keep you posted. It's so nice to see him on a walk with his tail up! I guess I just needed a place to vent a little too. Our
At this point unconditional love isn't the problem. Cosmo has that now and forever. We are just aching to see if there is information out there that would help. We are a bit concerned over other potential complications, but we told there weren't any. I hope so. Thanks again.
 

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I am so sorry to hear about Cosmos. I am sure that he knows that he is loved, just look at him in the baby carrier.

Welcome to Spoiled Maltese...You will love it here!!! Please know that we care about your baby and hope that he gets along well!!!:wub::wub::wub:
 

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I'm so sorry Cosmo developed this condition, but am sure he'll adapt well.
My Missy was diabetic and I belong to a support group for that. Many many diabetic pooches go blind(from diabetic cataracts) and it happens very quickly. Many can't afford or the pooch isn't good candidate for surgery so all inv9olved work together to adapt and it's amazing how well they do.
Some pointers owners have used to help:
As stated try to keep things in same place and keep floors cleared of 'non-usual' items
Scent rugs/doorways, or baseboards iof various rooms with different scents. With their strong little noses, it helps them 'locate'.
Talk a LOT... walking with them speak out 'step', step,etc with each one if you have them.
teach him the word "stop" ( walking with leash and stopping and verbalize the "stop". This will help if you see him headed to bump something and you can 'stop' him.
Wear a bell on your ankle so he knows where you are.
If he likes to chase balls.. get one with a bell inside so he can hear where it is.
If he gets dislocated... take him to his food/water bowls. That gives him a 'point of reference.

You are obviously dedicated to him and his well-being...I'm sure he'll do just fine.!
 

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I'm so sorry Cosmo is having problems but TG he has such a great family. I hope he does well and adapts quickly.
Hugs to you and that adorable Cosmo. Please keep us updated.
 

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So sorry that your poor fluff has to deal with that. Thank God that dogs are a lot more adaptable to change than humans. I wish you the best.
 

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Hugs to you and Cosmo. I don't have personal experience with owning a blind dog, but I did meet a really sweet one at puppy play group. He was wearing a vest that said "I'm Blind" so the humans around him would know and give him verbal cues to come visit and understand if he bumped into them while he was running around. The other dogs treated him just like the rest of the "pack." Humans can learn alot from our furry friends...
 

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Well we have an update...and will keep you posted. Cosmo has Cushing's Disease -- we just got the call and are heartbroken. Picking up his meds tomorrow.
 

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im not familiar with cushings disease , but my prayers are with u n cosmo! ((hugs))
 

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I must say, the folks on this forum are too awesome for words. It really warms my heart to see the outreach of support. You are in good company.

I'm very sorry to hear about Cosmo. I can only imagine the heartsinking feeling you must have experienced during this whole ordeal.

However, if there's one thing I've come to appreciate about these angels, it's that they are so resilient and will rise to the challenges put infront of them. It seems to me that Cosmo's got the right attitude and will power to live a long and happy life. Please keep us updated on Cosmo's progress. I hope with all my heart that no further consequences are down the road for this little guy!
 
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