PEOPLE’S PET OF THE YEAR
TAO AND OKO
Blind golden retriever and his guide dog puppy whose adorable antics have gone viral as they share their story to raise awareness.
Beloved pet Tao, 12, lost his eyesight suddenly last year after being diagnosed with glaucoma. Following his surgery, Tao seemed low so owner Melanie Jackson came up with a brilliant plan to lift his spirits and keep him mobile.
She got him his own guide dog in the form of 16-week-old golden retriever Oko. The pair bonded immediately, and Melanie decided to share their story and antics online to raise awareness of genetic glaucoma in dogs.
Melanie set up an Instagram page for Tao, who she dubbed ‘Mr Winky’ before he was
completely blind. As well as sharing cute pictures of Tao, she documented the process of welcoming Oko to the family. They now have 57,000 fans on social media, and one of their most popular images is of Tao wearing a bandana saying ‘Blind Dog’ while Oko sports one with the words ‘Sight Dog’ emblazoned.
Melanie, from Somerset, said: “Tao was diagnosed with glaucoma – a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged – when he was 10.
“It all happened so fast as he was fine in the morning but in the evening he was shaking his head which suggested he was in pain. Five hours later, he was blind and his eye was removed!”
She added: “They are such a special team they are and l really believe they deserve this award.”