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Around the Columns

At their service

doggy eye chart

Therapy dogs get free annual eye exams from Mizzou’s ophthalmologists in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Illustration by Drew Roper

Working animals were on the receiving end of care in May when ophthalmologists from the College of Veterinary Medicine conducted complimentary eye exams for service and therapy dogs.

The annual sight-saving exams target helpers such as Sydney, a medical alert dog who warns Barbara Willis of Columbia to take medication for oncoming migraine headaches. Sydney knows by smell when a migraine is imminent and signals “mom” with a lick on her ear.

Fourth-year students assisted clinician Elizabeth Giuliano with National Service Dog Eye Exam Day and heard Giuliano’s prognosis for the 7-year-old Rottweiler mix: no change in Sydney’s slow-growing cataracts. While the students looked at a magnified image of Sydney’s cataracts, Sydney looked around for a treat.

Next up was Brownie, 7, a tranquil pup who visits patients in hospitals and care centers. The freckled Brittany spaniel-pointer mix takes her therapy job so seriously that she worked the exam room, making eye contact with everyone and gently placing two paws on the laps of those seated.

“Brownie knows when people need a friend,” says Gina Stewart, BA ’01, of Columbia. “If I cough, she comes to see if I’m OK.”

Because Brownie is so calm, Giuliano could show the students detailed images of her optic nerve. The exam concluded with Giuliano’s recommendation for surgery to remove Brownie’s eyelid tumor, so Brownie will soon be on the receiving end of the TLC she gives so freely.