Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pup may have vision problem

Princeton likes to grin from his right side

Princeton’s vision may be significantly worse in his left eye. Our Great Dane pup tends to cock his head at look sideways at you. I’ve always thought it was cute how he gives a three-quarter view of his face and gazes slyly out of one eye.

However, some people complained that he seems distracted or even blind. I improvised some vision tests and he always passed, except that he doesn’t have much depth perception.

I kept focusing on how Princeton’s eyes look different. His left eye is blue-green and surrounded by white fur, while his right eye is darker with black and grey fur around it. Finally it hit me. His eyes don’t just look different, they might work differently, too.

Sure enough, when I paid attention, it was obvious that he ALWAYS looks with his head turned with his brown eye forward. Both eyes respond to bright light, but I finally realized that maybe he can’t see as well in his light-colored eye, the one with the white fur around it. Merles are known for such genetic defects. Click here for an excellent summary of merle Dane genetics and related vision problems.

I’m going to ask the vet and the breeder about it. He gets around just fine, but it does explain some of his quirks. For example, he’s run into me or my partner a few times when he was galloping at top speed. Maybe he misjudged where we were?

This also explains why he keeps wanting to “heel” on the wrong side -- so he can have his good eye on the outside to watch for danger. He keeps wanting to move from my left side to my right side. It’s not just him being naughty, either. He does it when he’s on his best behavior, and he doesn’t pull or act up when he does it. I think he wants to have his “good eye” on the outside to see what’s happening. I’m going to try modifying his leash training with this in mind.

Princeton has never been able to catch something that’s thrown to him, unless it’s huge. My old Dane mix used to love catching apple peels, but toss one to Princeton and it just hits his snout every time. This may just be a Dane thing. I had another Dane lover test her 5-month-old puppy, and he couldn’t catch treats, either.

Interestingly, my favorite baby photo of Princeton from the breeder is one where he is looking out sideways out of his good eye with a mischievous expression at age two weeks. It’s still my screen saver. I post it below.

That photo is one reason that we chose to adopt Princeton. I thought that any puppy with that cute sideways mischievous look must be a lot of fun and have a special outlook on life. And it’s true.

Princeton already had his classic sideways glance at 2 weeks old
(photo courtesy of Shabrea Great Danes)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Great Dane pup loves to jump

Princeton loves to jump -- not over fences, but straight up in the air. He jumps for joy. I’ve noticed three occasions when he jumped for joy:

1. When a friendly stranger asked for his kiss -- and he knew what to do. It happened when we took Princeton to a street fair. One woman bent down and commanded, “Kiss!” That’s a command that we’ve been teaching Princeton daily for months. He responded by kissing her, to her delight -- and his! Then he leaped high in the air for joy, ecstatic that he could communicate with a stranger. It was like he finally understood why we were saying, “Kiss” over and over and giving him a treat when he licked our hands. It was like that classic moment when Helen Keller figured out that the hand sign for water was a word.

2. When a little boy surprised him with a playful jump of his own. We were at an outdoor concert where we met a six-year-old boy who LOVED playing with Princeton. The boy crouched down on the ground and rolled up in a ball -- then sprang up to his feet, surprising Princeton and making our puppy leap for joy.

3. When he noticed that I was wearing my walking shoes. I changed my shoes in another room, then found Princeton to take him for a walk. My puppy sniffed my shoes and jumped for joy!

Last night Princeton jumped like a frog onto our bed -- no running head start, just leaped straight up in the air with all four legs and landed on our bed. I was amazed. He looked quite proud of himself, but got down as soon as we yelled, “Off!”

An update: His eyes are turning brown, and he has lost almost all his baby teeth. One sharp little fang in front left to go.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Great Dane pup loves to run

Princeton on the go

Our Great Dane pup loves to run now. When we first got him, he was rather uncoordinated. He looked like a rocking horse when he ran. Now at five and a half months old. he’s poetry in motion.

I tried to capture Princeton running in this photo. I love how his ears fly when he gallops at top speed!