Service dog Addie and Rich Canino look into each other’s eyes after Addie’s successful cataract surgery Dec. 12 in Virginia. Photo by Dana Long

By Rita Thiel

Addie, the 2-year-old Norwegian Elkhound and service dog to Ocracoke Islander Rich Canino, underwent successful double cataract surgery on Dec. 12 at Animal Eye Care specialists in Yorktown, Virginia. 

Addie has congenital cataracts that have caused near blindness and were progressively getting worse.  

As a service dog, Addie is by veteran Canino’s side 24/7–ready to alert him to a pending anxiety attack that gives Canino time to make needed behavioral adjustments to stave off the oncoming attack and possible seizure.

Canino, his fiancée Dana Long and Addie began the journey Dec. 10, arriving in Yorktown for Addie’s surgery Dec. 12.  

After a difficult day without his guardian and lifeline, Canino was reunited with Addie later that afternoon. Sporting her “cone of success,” Addie greeted Canino with hearty tail wags, lots of kisses, and a renewed sense of sight.

Long noticed Addie’s improved vision immediately.   

“Back in the hotel room after Addie returned from surgery, Rich had to walk out to the car and Addie followed him with her eyes all the way across the parking lot,” she said. “She couldn’t have done that before.”

Addie will have to return every week for follow-up visits, but a few check-ups might be able to be handled with veterinarians closer to home.  

“Addie has increased pressure in one of her eyes that the surgical doctors want to keep a close watch on and I think we’ve found a vet nearby who has the right equipment to do the necessary tests,” Long said.

Several months ago, Long set up a Go-Fund-Me page, a Facebook fundraiser page and a direct-deposit bank account to help with Addie’s surgical costs.

The goal was to raise $5,000 to cover Addie’s surgery and pre- and post-op visits. An unexpected spirit and depth of financial generosity—enough for the surgery–flooded in for Addie.  

Canino and Long are still in awe. 

“We are so grateful for everything everyone has done,” Long said. “We even got a card from England. We just couldn’t have done this for her if it hadn’t been for you all.”

The couple and Addie have returned home to Ocracoke, joyfully celebrating the overwhelming support shown to them and delighting in knowing that Addie will be able to see not only the twinkle of the Christmas tree lights but the twinkle in Canino’s eyes, too.

Addie on her way to surgery Dec. 12. Photo by Dana Long
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  1. Gracias a Dios for Addie’s successful surgery. May the healing of her eyes progress to full recovery; the veterinarians who work with her be strengthened and guided by God’s love. Addie, Rich and Dana – I thank you for sharing your lives with me. Nina

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