11 1/2-year-old Shih-poo
Owned by Andra Whitworth
Tulsa, OK

I met Sebastian at a meet-and-greet in 2008. My first dog had died suddenly less than a month before, and I was certain that I could never find another companion as loving and all-around cute as he had been.

I remember my delight when I saw him, an adorable Shih-Poo with bright eyes that shone from under his overgrown eyebrows, and weighing only 11 pounds. And so began our lives together.

In March 2014, Sebastian's accidents increased dramatically. Soon, he was unable to sleep through the night without making multiple trips outside to potty. He even started sleeping next to his water bowl so he could drink throughout the night. The veterinarian confirmed it was diabetes.

Although we were able to control his symptoms with twice daily insulin shots, our veterinarian warned me that most diabetic dogs go blind within six months of diagnosis and the cataracts develop quickly.

When blindness came for Sebastian, it came fast and ruthlessly, almost overnight. One morning, I noticed that he showed little interest in his routine, his toys, and our traditional game of chase around the sofa. When I let him out that night, he was unable to find the way back into the house. I called to him from the doorway and witnessed his confusion as he fumbled to find me. That's when I knew my precious friend could not see.

His sudden change in behavior and personality was shocking and distressing. My happy-go-lucky boy became clingy and anxious, disoriented and clumsy, lethargic and disinterested. Our veterinarian arranged an appointment with the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital Ophthalmology Service. Cataract surgery was scheduled for the next day.

I said a tearful goodbye to Sebastian and left him in their care. Three days passed before I saw him again. His precious face was crowned by a cheery cone head decorated by his doctor. His eyebrows and eyelashes had been shorn, his eyes were swollen and red, but between his squints I knew that he could see my face. He walked with a swagger out of the hospital, already more confident than the time just three days earlier when I had to carry him inside.

Months later, Sebastian's eyesight is intact and he is enjoying life as fully as ever. Many thanks to the veterinary ophthalmologists at UGA for restoring Sebastian's vision and improving his quality of life.