Rickie Roo is a star in the world of dog agility competitions winning so many trophies and ribbons that it fills a room. Roo is also a star survivor of an eye disease called Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) that often leaves dogs blind. Despite her disability, the 7 year-old Rat Terrier qualified to compete in the 2015 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Master Agility Challenge event.
The agility competition at Westminster was held on February 14. While Rickie Roo competed like a champ, a Border collie named Tex took the first place prize.
Rickie Roo is still a winner in the eyes of her owner Deborah Davidson-Harpur.
“She got a Q ribbon (the ribbon you get for earning a qualifying score for running the course clear and under time) and the chance to compete in a sport she loves,” said Davidson-Harpur. “She met her fans, got to play and she can SEE. That’s a win to me.”
When Rickie Roo first showed signs of becoming an agility superstar her breeder let Deborah know that a DNA test for PLL had became available. PLL is an inherited mutation of the eye and Rat terriers are predisposed. She suggested the test to make sure Roo was healthy. Unfortunately the results pointed to the possibility of Rickie Roo developing the condition. PLL affects the ligaments that hold the lens of the eye in place. Eventually these ligaments break and the lens dislocates.
Because of Roo’s diagnosis Deborah kept close watch on the situation. She was able to immediately recognize the sudden signs of twitching, blinking and tearing in Roo’s eye when her condition deteriorated.
Roo underwent emergency surgery to remove the lens of her eye. Within two weeks, the lens in her other eye dislocated and had to be removed as well.
Dr. Christin Fahrer, DMV, MS, DACVO performed both surgeries that saved Roo’s vision, but left her with impaired depth perception. No one thought she would be able to compete again.
Little Rickie Roo proved everyone wrong and worked her way back to becoming a champion in agility and in other areas of her life. Roo is now a service dog, a reporter for the United States Dog Agility Association and she earned the Award of Canine Excellence for her educational efforts about PLL.
Today, Deborah is a firm believer in genetic testing. She and Roo promote the importance of having your pet tested and believes it saved her dog’s sight.
“Because I tested her and knew she was at-risk for PLL, I was able to get treatment at the very first hint of an issue,” said Davidson-Hapur.
In the process of educating the public, Deborah and Roo connected with Paw Print Genetics. The company provides the same test that Roo received.
Paw Print Genetics believed so highly in Roo’s ability the company became her sponsor to Westminister by defraying costs for travel and lodging.
Since her diagnosis, a test has been created to determine if at-risk breeds are carriers of PLL. The test is giving breeders the opportunity to stop passing along the mutated gene to future litters. PLL is seen most often in: American Eskimo dogs, American hairless terriers, Australian cattle dogs, Border collies, Bull terriers, Chinese crested, Jack Russell terriers, Rat terriers and most other terrier breeds.
Rickie Roo wants the readers of Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog to know that she’s concerned about all kinds of disabled pets. Last year she helped raise funds for the Rolling Dog Project so they could supply wheelchairs to paralyzed dogs whose families could not afford one. Roo raised enough money to provide 10 carts and recently she got to meet one of the recipients.
Keep up-to-date with Rickie Roo on her Facebook Page.
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