FLEUR - A Springer Spaniel Extrordinaire

March 28, 1991 - November 1, 2002

by Michael Zigler DVM, Cert.V.Ophthal

My own dog, Fleur, was blind. She was a Springer Spaniel born with severe retinal dysplasia. When I examined her at 7 weeks of age, one retina had already detached. The other eye had a large area of geographic dysplasia, but she was still visual. The breeder asked me to euthanize her. I didn't.

It was meant to be. My wife is allergic to some dogs, but not all. We were almost ready to buy a Wheaton Terrier pup, but when we visited the breeder, my wife's eyes became puffy, so we backed out. When I brought the springer pup home, she had no problems with allergy. My wife is from Quebec, so we named the pup Fleur Ange de Jardin - Flower Angel of the Garden!! We call her Fleur. Fancy that - a French name for an English Springer Spaniel.

At 7 months of age about 1/2 of her second retina detached. This was before laser surgery was available to me. At three years or so she developed cataracts, which limited her poor vision in the right eye, and was causing lens induced uveitis in her blind left eye. So I did cataract surgery.

Within 5 days she developed glaucoma in the left eye. She was in such pain, that I opted to do a gentocin injection relatively quickly. The eye became phthisical but remained red and inflamed and she would cry if she bumped it, so after 6 or 8 months more, I enucleated her left eye. The right eye, retained a bit of vision for a year or so, and then the retina detached completely. She learned to cope very well as a blind dog.

When Fleur was 6 the remaining eye developed glaucoma. Two bouts of laser surgery failed to control the pressure and I finally did an evisceration and silicon prosthesis. She became comfortable and happy again.

She had such a terrific memory map of our house and the whole neighborhood. On our walks she would walk ahead of me at a normal pace and with her head held high. Most people would never guess she was blind.

In the last year of her life, Fleur was diagnosed with atypical Addison's Disease - an adrenal gland failure which was caused by a pituitary gland tumour. This caused a number of severe seizures in the last few weeks and we made the difficult decision to end her suffering.

Fleur was 11 1/2 years old when she died. Caring for her brought both joy and tears. She was very special, and will be missed by her family, Michael Barbara, Melissa and Grandma.

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Michael Zigler DVM, Cert.V.Ophthal.

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