English Springer Spaniel Rio was diagnosed with progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) nearly 3 years ago at just 3 years of age. His eyesight has rapidly deteriorated and within a year he was almost completely blind. I adopted Rio knowing he would soon be blind, and I did worry about him living in a “dark” world and that he might get depressed and frustrated with life, however I needn’t of worried. I have worked hard to bring lots of enrichment and play into Rios life, not only to stimulate his brain but also to hone his other senses. The important thing is to keep everything achievable.

When I had the chance to try the Pickpocket Pouches with him, I wasn’t sure that he would take to them as he isn’t the most food orientated dog, but he actually worked them out very quickly. I started off with just one pouch and used raw sprouts as treats as they were easier for him to feel with his paws through the fabric. I had to teach him the command “nose in” as understandably he is a little reluctant to put his face into something he isn’t sure about, but literally after three sessions he had progressed to all three pouches together and just plain kibble.

The great thing about them is firstly the social interaction that we have when using them, which not only does Rio love, but it is amazing for his confidence. With Rio being such an active dog, sometimes if gets things wrong and has a bump or scares himself he can quickly become withdrawn, however the pouches are a great way of creating achievable challenges for him, and any mishaps are quickly forgotten about.