Therapy Dog Becomes Blind, Just Keeps on Working

Dutchess always looks happyDutchess always looks happyA therapy dog who lost both of her eyes to disease is inspiring even more people because of her disability.

Dutchess was 9 years old when she developed pigmentary uveitis, a disease that causes the eyes to become painful and inflamed. While prescription eye drops provided some relief, the only way to alleviate the golden retriever's pain was to remove her eyes.

"Once the last option of drops stop being effective, that's the time to do surgery, and she was in pain so we scheduled it," her owner, Mark Condon, told Life With Dogs.

Dutchess adjusted to quickly to life without eyes. Within a week she was playing fetch, and within three she was back to work visiting classrooms and nursing homes.

Also see: Blind dog gets seeing-eye cat

The 11-year-old therapy dog has volunteered for a variety of causes and has even been featured as the face of campaigns like HeARTs Speak, an organization that promotes animal adoption.

But Dutchess devotes most of her time to working with children and adults with autism. Sometimes she simply serves as a calming presence, sitting beside people and letting them brush or pet her. Other times, she plays fetch or lends a listening ear while they read to her.

"I think she is better at her job now than before," Condon said. "Not that losing her vision was good, but the guys she works with have to account for the fact that she has no vision and that's something that is a goal for many of the guys - empathy and perspective."

In May, Dutchess found a new way to inspire people with the publication of the children's book, "A Day with Dutchess: Life Lessons from a Blind Therapy Dog."

The blind golden retriever stars in the book as she shows her friend Droopy how small actions can make a big difference and how everyone can make the world a better place, even if they have a disability.

Watch Dutchess playing fetch a week after her eye-removal surgery in this video.

Related stories: