“Don’t Give up on Them:” Huntington Woman Hopes to Inspire Others through Dog’s Diagnosis

Chumlee the Golden Retriever was diagnosed with SARDS, causing him to quickly lose his vision
A Woman and her special dog are inspiring others who face challenges
A Woman and her special dog are inspiring others who face challenges
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 6:51 PM EDT
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A Woman and her dog inspire others who face challenges

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Shelley McCutcheon claps and talks to her dog, Chumlee, to help him get around.

“He’s learned how to map everything out,” McCutcheon explains.

Chumlee’s vest lets people know what McCutcheon was devastated to learn: Chumlee is blind.

“We were playing ball two years ago, the 23rd of this month, when he was diagnosed. Had to run him to a specialist in Indy,” McCutcheon remembers.

The otherwise healthy Golden Retriever was diagnosed with SARDS, a relatively rare condition that causes dogs and cats to go blind, quickly.

“I knew something was wrong. It was a huge adjustment,” admits McCutcheon.

Chumlee took it hard.

Everything the Indianapolis specialist told McCutcheon to expect, Chumlee went through, including depression and weight-gain.

It took a year, but things finally began to turn around.

“I take him to Huntington University, and he runs on his own now, off-leash, following the command of my voice. And he goes full force.”

Chumlee is now a therapy dog with Three Rivers Visiting Dogs.

McCutcheon has this message for anyone who has an animal with the diagnosis:

“Don’t give up on them. I had several people approach and ask if I was going to put him down. It doesn’t affect their lifespan. Work with them,” McCutcheon urges.