Tanner and Blair

posted July 15th, 2012 by
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by Anna Holton-Dead

Photography by Karen Miller

The heartwarming story of Tanner and Blair is unique to say the least, making local and national news—a seeing eye dog for another canine.

At Woodland West Animal Hospi­tal in Tulsa, the pair’s temporary resi­dence, Blair happened into the yard with blind Tanner and instinctively be­gan to lead him around by holding his leash in her mouth. Tanner, who used to seize nightly, has had a total of three seizures since February when he and Blair connected. Mike Jones, DVM at Woodland West, says he’s never seen anything like it, but at the core of it is something we already know to be true. “It shows that companionship can lead to reduced stress and a bet­ter life,” he says. Less stress and a bet­ter life are something both dogs could certainly use.


   Although she is the service dog as­sisting Tanner, Blair’s rough past has left problems and scars all her own. A Labrador mix believed to be about 2 years old, she was found along with her sister by a Good Samaritan. She had a gunshot wound to her left pelvis, but thankfully, no permanent physi­cal injuries. Emotionally, it’s a different story. “While her sister was easily ad­opted, Blair was extremely shy, scared and wouldn’t come up to people,” Dr. Jones says. She’s been residing at Woodland West Animal Hospital since January of this year.


   Then there’s Tanner, blind with a seizing disorder. In January 2010, he came in to Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue with four siblings at 7 weeks old. He was adopted soon thereafter, but his owner died in November of the same year. He again found himself back at SGRR. Fostered out twice, nei­ther home was able to offer the time he required or the ability to care for his special needs, which were more than a handful at his size during a seizing fit. Neither foster home was able to care for him longer than a month at best.


After a brief stint at Woodland West Animal Hospital, Pam Denny of SGRR fostered him in her own kennel build­ing. “Someone has to be home a fair amount of the time,” Denny says. “While he was with me, I let him out every four hours to take care of busi­ness; he would get anxious, and his sei­zures could occur, causing him to use the bathroom.”

But even with Denny, it was not an ideal long-term situation. Again, Tan­ner found his way back to Woodland West Animal Hospital where he was ambling about the yard the fateful day that Blair trotted up and took his leash. Dr. Jones says he truly believes Blair in­stinctively knew Tanner was blind, and he’s not surprised by their bond or the benefit it has had on both canines.

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“It’s safe to say that we recognize the human-animal bond helps de­crease blood pressure, etc.,” he says. “But I think this shows we should also recognize the animal-animal bond, and the good it can do as well.” Tanner’s re­duction in seizures is the proof of that, and Blair has become friendlier with people.


Since their story made national news, Sooner Golden Retriever Res­cue has received over 100 applications from people all over the country in­terested in taking on the pair. Denny says SGRR is taking its time to respond to each applicant in order to find the most perfect fit to meet Tanner and Blair’s needs. There is much more to consider in choosing the right home than willingness and love.


“We have responded to everyone by email or phone call and are in the process of talking to these various potential adopters,” Denny says. “We are talking to them to let them know what’s going to be involved in the adoption of these two. Do they have experience with blind dogs, seizure dogs? Tanner’s anxiety issues are no­where near what they were. He’s a lot more settled and calm with Blair, but moving them to a new environment will create a toll on him.”


She says some questions that must be considered in finding the right home are: Does the person have a fenced yard, not too large a yard? Are there any obstructions or swimming pools that could be a hazard for a blind dog? Tanner has to be kept in the house with limited access and a safe area.


Another factor is Tanner doesn’t travel well, Denny says. He cannot be crated, or he will get too anxious, which may cause him to seize.


The good news is with so many ap­plicants SGRR has narrowed it down to “a handful of very strong prospects— people who are experienced and un­derstand what will be involved with these two,” Denny says. “We don’t know how Blair will be. She’s becom­ing a better dog, a lot more outgoing and friendly. We are still getting ap­plications actually and a list of people yet to call to get background info on and to explain to them what will be involved. The applicants range from California to New York to Florida, and all over the place.”


Dr. Jones agrees the perfect home will have to meet very specific require­ments. He says the owners must have an intense understanding of seizure disorder and be willing to take on a huge commitment both financially and emotionally, but he’s confident that Tanner and Blair are in good hands for finding the right fit. “There is no doubt [the right person/family is out there], and I applaud Sooner Golden Retriev­er Rescue for taking the time needed to find the right forever home.”

One Response to “Tanner and Blair”

  1. Bev says:

    did blare and tanner find a forever home, together

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