After watching her blind Scottish terrier, Scotty Boy, bump into the wall one too many times, Dorie Stratton decided to stop idly standing by and instead vowed to do something about it.
“He couldn’t see, and would bump into walls all the time, and then just sit in the middle of the room and cry,” Dorie told Little Things.
Dorie thought over and over about how she could help him, and in the end, she came up with an idea. She developed a custom-made tool for her puppy, which she called his “Halo.” Then, with the help of a friend, Dorie designed a vest with a ring for Scotty Boy to wear and orient himself.
As soon as Scotty Boy put on his new suit, he became a whole new dog—he began to fearlessly explore the world again! After seeing her puppy’s amazing transformation, Dorie decided to try to help other blind animals. Four years later, her company, Halos for Paws, is equipping all kinds of animals with “Halo” vests. Read on to see how “Halos for Paws” is improving the lives of blind animals everywhere.
When Dorie Stratton adopted Scotty Boy, the dog was blind, frightened, and frustrated. He had been abandoned and was found in a parking lot, probably left there after his former owners realized he was blind, according to Dorie.
Scotty Boy lost his sight after being afflicted by SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome). SARDS-affected dogs lose their sight within a few days, or at most within a few weeks, of their owners noticing that their eyes look bad.
Dorie decided she wouldn’t sit back and watch her sweetheart suffer, so she contacted a friend whose company develops innovative solutions to various problems. Together they designed a vest equipped with a round hoop that enables dogs to orient themselves.
“When the vest is put on the dog, the halo goes around the face, acting as a bumper guard should the dog run into something,” says Dorie.
When Dorie put the vest on Scotty Boy, everything changed. His frustration vanished and his playful curiosity returned. He began to explore his surroundings again, happy and carefree.
After witnessing the puppy’s turnaround, Dorie knew her vest could help other blind dogs.
“We initially didn’t have any plans to start a business, until we showed the vest to our Vet Ophthalmologist. She went crazy for the vest and said these vests are highly in demand for blind dogs and I should start a business selling these vests.” says Dorie.
With her partner Ellen Burgess, Dorie has spent the past four years developing the company. They equip blind dogs with their invention worldwide.
“There are people out there that have these blind animals and would do anything to help them,” says Dorie.
During their first year as entrepreneurs, the two founders received scores of letters and emails from grateful owners, who thanked them for giving their dogs a new life.
Each “Halo” is tailor-made for the animal it is intended for. The owners send in their pet’s measurements and the company produces a one-of-a-kind vest.
Dorie has received orders from all over the world. Most customers, however, live in in the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK.
“I never knew when starting this business that there would be this many blind dogs all over the world.” says Dorie.
Halos for Paws not only gives service dogs a new life. They are also equip blind cats and sheep with their vests.
When Dorie reflects on all the lives she’s helped to improve, she summarizes it in a way that says it all: “These dogs get to live a normal life, and that’s the greatest gift of all.”
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