SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – A dog who lost both of her eyes due to glaucoma may not be able to see, but that’s not slowing her down thanks to her two canine “brothers.”
Kiaya, a 10-year-old Akita from Waterford, Mich., battled glaucoma for two years before losing one eye and then, 15 months later, the other. Now, Kiaya’s Akita housemates – 8-year-old Cass and 2-year-old Keller – stand on each side of her and help guide her.
“It’s amazing to watch,” said Dr. Gwen Sila, a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist with BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital who performed Kiaya’s surgeries. “It’s clear the other dogs are trying to protect her. Their sense of loyalty is really remarkable.”
Jessica VanHusen, the dogs’ owner, said Cass has been watchful ever since Kiaya’s left eye was removed in July 2013. He stuck by her side as they traipsed through the backyard and he always laid next to her on her blind side.
The behavior grew even more noticeable after Kiaya’s second eye was removed in November 2014.
“Cass always allows Kiaya to get to her food dish first and waits for her to start eating,” said VanHusen. “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.”
As the youngest dog in the house, Keller was a little slower to react to Kiaya’s condition. But as he gets older, he’s becoming increasingly protective, VanHusen said. He also loves to wrestle and play with his big sister.
VanHusen admits she sometimes gets a little teary when she watches her dogs interact.
“They’re an inspiration to everyone,” said VanHusen. “I hope others will see them and realize that a special needs pet deserves a chance. It takes a little effort, but it’s absolutely worth it.”