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Did you know that I see things differently than the way you do? And that overall I don’t see as well as you? I’m going to share with you some of the ways I see the world around me!

My point of view is much lower than yours because I am closer to the ground. Much like the way that my mom sees things at a lower level than many adults because she is in a wheelchair. But my viewpoint is even lower than hers! 

Also, there are structural differences between our eyes that change the way I see everything around me. The anatomical or physical parts, like the rods and cones, differ. As well as the placement of where my eyes are compared to yours.

My beautiful eye with a reflection of my mom!

The areas where we differ are the field of vision, visual acuity, brightness discrimination, and color perception. Some of those sound so technical, don’t they? I will tell you a little bit about each one but I’ll try to keep it simple! 

The field of vision means the whole area that you can see when your eyes are looking straight ahead and not moving. This would include what is in front of you. And also the areas off to each side. Since my eyes are placed a bit further apart and more toward the side than yours it makes my view wider. But this also varies amongst different breeds of dogs because of the varying shapes of their heads.

Visual acuity is the sharpness of the object we are looking at or how well we can see something. For me, I need to be closer to an object than you do for me to see it clearly. But you know what? I bet my mom needs to be even closer than me! Since the visual acuity is where my mom has some weaknesses with her vision.

The next would be brightness discrimination.  This is how bright an object or area looks. Dogs are not able to differentiate the levels of brightness as well as people do. This means that objects of similar shades or brightness are harder for dogs to tell apart. For example, you can see various shades of gray but to me, these all look to be the same!

And the last is color perception. I most easily can see shades of blue and yellow. A person sees a rainbow of colors! The spectrum or range of colors that I see is far less than yours. The way I see colors is similar to a person who has red-green color blindness.

My ability to see movement, especially at a distance, is much better than yours. This is due to some of the differences in the structure of my eyes. Most likely I would catch the movement of a squirrel long before you would. Well, maybe not! An important service dog skill that I have is not being distracted by other animals. This means even the movement of a squirrel wouldn’t capture my attention! But most dogs would catch the motion before you! 

So what does all of this mean for me? For one thing, this is how I’ve always seen my world so it is normal for me. And another is how fortunate I feel that my mom knows about the differences in our vision. This makes her sensitive to my needs and how I perceive my environment. 

For instance, if she asks me to pick up something she drops and I’m not quite as quick as usual then she stops to think about why that might be. Since I always quickly pick up items for her she might look to see if it could be harder for me to see because of its color.

Or it could be that the tones or brightness between the object and the floor is similar which is making it a bit harder for me to see. In these instances, she might reposition her chair so that she is closer to the object. Thus giving me an extra clue as to where I should look. 

So to sum it up and give you snippets of some fun facts I’ve made a list of the highlights that show how I see differently.

  1. If you were to get down to the eye level of your dog and look around you would discover that their line of vision is much lower than yours. This is my viewpoint!
  2. You see a rainbow of colors. And I don’t see those same colors. But instead, I mostly see just blues and yellows.
  3. I am not able to distinguish the different levels of brightness as well as you do. The tones I see are more muted or subdued.
  4. My eyes are placed wider apart than yours and more toward the side of my head so my peripheral vision is wider than yours. This means I can see things off to the side better than you. 
  5. My visual acuity or how well I can see an object is diminished. I don’t see an object as clearly as you do. But maybe a little bit better than my mom!  
  6. I rely more on contrast and movement to see and identify objects. And I also use my nose to help. 

My view looking down the aisle in the grocery store!

My mom and I like to think about all the various ways that we see differently. It helps my mom to maximize my success with my service dog work so I can be the most helpful. And it gives her a chance to set up training situations where I get to practice the more challenging areas of my work. So that when we encounter things that look different I know just what to do!