When Rowan, a German Spitz was born, his owner Mrs. Sam Orchard kept waiting for him to open his eyes and after five to seven days when he didn’t, she took him to the veterinarian.
It came as a shock to Sam when the vet told her that he would never open his eyes because they didn’t exist – her little pup Rowan was born without eyes.
Sam was extremely sad for Rowan but she decided that she would just do the best for him and now he is just like the other dogs at home – only a little more special.
Though Rowan was born without eyes, he walks and plays around almost as normal as a sighted dog.
Rowan’s behaviour is so normal that most people who meet him don’t even realize he is blind – they just ask Sam why he keeps his eyes shut.
How can a blind dog seem to be so normal like other dogs?
Well, Rowan uses echo-location to determine where objects are in the outdoors.
Echolocation is a natural ability of a certain species to detect its surroundings using sound waves and sensing echoes.
When an animal makes a sound (for instance, a bark in a dog’s case), the sound waves bounces off the object near it and returns an echo which gives the animal information about the object’s distance and size, and this sense of hearing is the reason they can navigate easily.
Including humans and dogs, over a thousand species echolocate, like bats, dolphins, and other small mammals.
It is wonderful to see Rowan use his barks and then listen for the echo to locate where and how far an object is in his surroundings.
With the help of echolocation, Rowan creates a mental map by comparing the way his barks bounces back in an echo in different locations.
His owner Sam says that Rowan was not taught to “see” this way, but she noticed he would go out and bark to find his direction in the open and how his behaviour outside changed when the trees were without leaves and when they rustled with leaves.
By using his barks, hearing and sense of smell to compensate for his sight, Rowan, the blind German Spitz is almost indistinguishable from a sighted dog.
Mrs. Sam Orchard who breeds dogs at Spilmah Pet Home Boarding in Biggleswade, UK is way more than happy to see her fluffy pooch Rowan running around in the open as if he were the same as the rest of her dogs.
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