Meet Tao, a 12-year-old Golden Retriever whose eyes were medically removed because of glaucoma and an eye illness that damages the visual nerve. Although the now-blind dog healed swiftly, Tao struggled to play and enjoy life as he had before the operation. Melanie Jackson, his human, wanted to add a new member to the family in the hopes of improving his quality of life. Oko, an 8-week-old Golden Retriever puppy, was adopted by her. The cute couple clicked right away and became inseparable. Oko now serves as Tao’s seeing-eye dog.
“For such a young puppy, Oko is wonderful,” Jackson tells My Modern Met. “He has given Tao the courage to play and run about in the fields because he leads him.” Tao has a new lease on life now that he has a puppy as a best friend and mentor. “He used to follow my smell, which was extremely heartbreaking because he used to love to run around and play when he was a sighted dog,” Jackson adds. “They’re always together and have developed a beautiful bond.”
Tao and Oko do almost everything together, from playing together to sleeping close to one other. Now that Oko is a little older, he’s settling into his new duty as a guide, and he’s even undergoing extensive training. “I’m the one who’s training Oko,” Jackson confesses. “If he didn’t, he’d get Tao into mischief because he’s an inquisitive puppy.” Tao is being taught to follow Oko’s scent, and Oko is being taught to listen to and obey my directions to stop, wait, go right, go left.'”
Glaucoma can be avoided if detected early, therefore Jackson is now collaborating with The Kennel Club to aid other dogs. Tao’s DNA can be analyzed by the organization to find other dogs who may be affected by the same eye illness.