A mother has given an emotional account of how a blind rescue dog has helped transform the life of her autistic daughter.
Vickie Tatlow, from Whitefield, Manchester, said her teenage daughter Tegan and two-year-old cocker spaniel Stevie are now inseparable and have forged a life-changing bond.
Tegan, 18, was housebound and barely spoke until Stevie, named after music legend Stevie Wonder, was adopted from the Dogs Trust charity.
However, she is now going on regular walks and caring for him tirelessly after the beloved family pet underwent sight-saving surgery at the renowned Linnaeus-owned Eye Vet Referrals, in Runcorn, giving both Tegan and Stevie a new lease of life.
Vickie said: “It really is wonderful. They’re like best friends and they both rely on each other.
“Stevie absolutely dotes on Tegan and follows her everywhere, while having him around has made such a difference to Tegan and had such a positive effect.
“His arrival has helped Tegan start to do things again. Before he arrived, Tegan would Rarely go out of the house but now she’s up early every morning to take him for a walk, she is also extremely focused on ensuring that during his recovery she puts drops in his eyes six times a day and giving him two lots of tablets.
“Plus, he gets lots of kisses and cuddles and head scratches and you can see they’re both so happy.”
The care Tegan provides for Stevie is following the surgery at Linnaeus-owned Eye Vet, after the family took him with severely restricted sight.
Vickie added: “Stevie began his life being taken to a vet practice by a breeder to be put down due to his limited eyesight.
“Luckily, the vet contacted the Dogs Trust charity who took him in, looking to foster him out to a family with a view that if his eyesight could be repaired then that would lead to him being adopted.
“When we met Stevie, the whole family fell for him straight away but especially Tegan. When we adopted him, Stevie was totally blind in one eye and could barely see out of the other.
“This is when they forged that first bond and became so close, with Stevie following wherever Tegan led, with Tegan patiently teaching him to play fetch with a tennis ball, throwing it a couple of feet away so he could find it.
“This then developed into Stevie going on longer walks with the tennis ball constantly in his mouth, only dropping it to say hello to other dogs.
“Now he’s had a double cataract operation at Eye Vet, which has been a complete success and his milky eyes are now totally clear.
“He was a bit unsure of himself at first after having been blind for so long but Tegan and the rest of the family have helped him adapt and adjust and he’s now loving life.
“All the neighbours, who have dogs, are always been asking about him and they’re all delighted with his excellent recovery, especially as they can see that he’s looking at them now!”
Vickie, husband Andy and son Harry have actually witnessed two excellent recoveries as Tegan’s confidence continues to improve, too.
Vickie continued: “Tegan loves animals and has now signed up for a course on equine care.
“She struggled with school life because she couldn’t speak to other people or be in a crowded area but she still gained seven GCSEs.
“Now, she’s attending college. I have to go with her to help and she receives one-on-one tuition, which is terrific – so good that she’s even starting to communicate again even if it is just yes/no answers.”
The Tatlows are full of gratitude for all the help they’ve received, especially from Dogs Trust, which funded one of the cataract operations, and to Eye Vet ophthalmic director Iona Mathieson who carried out Stevie’s life-changing surgeries.
Vicky concluded: “We did a 99km walk to raise funds for the Dogs Trust to thank them for all their help and support with Stevie.
“We also can’t thank everyone at Eye Vet enough, especially Iona and deputy head nurse Abby Peers, who have both gone above and beyond in looking after Stevie and us.
“They were very special. They really involved Tegan in the process, fully recognising that Stevie was her dog, so they would speak to her about his treatment and his recovery.
“Then Abbey put a schedule together for Tegan which really helped her look after Stevie’s post-op aftercare and that’s enabled her to help nurse him through, so they were both absolutely brilliant.”
Eye Vet Referrals is a dedicated ophthalmic practice providing the best ocular care for pets across the North West of England. For more information, visit www.eye-vet.co.uk.