This story comes to us courtesy of Ed Tausk of Vermilion Dam Lodge:
Bella, Ed’s 3 year old yellow Labrador Retriever, has had a difficult and amazing life. As a pup, Bella was a favorite of the guests and staff. She picked up commands quickly and was using her natural talent as a retriever for grouse and duck hunting. Unfortunately, around the time Bella turned one, she was struck with the often fatal illness of Blastomycosis, called simply “Blasto” by most. Blasto is a spore like disease that can get into an animals lungs through inhaling or sniffing the ground, or even through open cuts. Once in the lungs, the mold grows fast and spreads throughout the organs. Unless treated quickly, the dog usually dies.
As in many cases, the mold attacked Bella’s eyes and caused severe pressure, leading to permanent damage to the nerves that control the eye sight. Bella went from being a normal sighted dog to total vision loss within a month. She stayed on medication for six months, and is now cured of the Blasto. Ed took Bella to several top vets and had her eyes tested, but the prognosis was always the same – she will never get her sight back.
In spite of this, most resort guests have no idea that Bella is blind. She gets around with no trouble at all, running full speed behind the resort atvs and slowing down when they do, following kids over 100 feet out onto the dock and sitting down right at the edge, and still retrieving anything from a stick thrown into the lake to grouse, using her front paws as her eyes.
One story Ed tells…A while back a lady was staying at the resort who fell in love with Bella. The lady would bring treats for her each day. One morning, the lady came into the lodge with treats looking for Bella, who was still upstairs in Ed’s apartment. She said she would come back later because she was going to take a walk along the river to the bottom of the falls (about 1/4 mile from the lodge). The lady had been gone about 20 minutes when Ed brought Bella down to the lodge. Bella picked up the lady’s scent and wanted to go outside. As soon as she was out, Bella tracked the lady’s scent all the way down to the bottom of the falls and found her. The lady was amazed, but said she knew Bella was looking for her because she watched Bella work her way down the path with her tail going very fast, and using her nose along the trail.
Ed hopes that Bella’s story will give hope to people whose pets have failing eyesight and are worried about what the quality of their lives will be.