PITTSFIELD — "Nala" the adoptable boerboel had glaucoma.
The 133-pound boerboel, a mastiff-type breed, arrived at the Berkshire Humane Society on June 11. But a few weeks later, canine specialist Stacey Broderick noticed Nala's right eye had become pale and cloudy, she said, a sign that pressure had built up in her eye, causing pain and vision loss.
It had to come out.
"She can't see out of it," Dr. John Reynolds explained at the Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital last week. "So basically we're taking away something that hurts and doesn't work."
The Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital is one of 11 practices the Berkshire Human Society calls on when an animal under their care is sick or injured, said the shelter's Executive Director John Perreault.
The whirring sound of a canine dental cleaning buzzed in the surgery room of the hospital Wednesday, when Nala was scheduled to have her surgery. The approximately 1-year old dog was sedated before three veterinary technicians worked together to hoist her up onto an operating table.
She was anesthetized as Reynolds scrubbed in to perform Nala's enucleation procedure. After removing Nala's eye, Reynolds placed it in a container to be shipped to a pathologist at the University of Wisconsin for diagnostic testing.
Nala was released back to the Berkshire Humane Society later that day. By Friday, Nala, still clad in a pet cone to keep her from swatting at her stitches, was in a good mood, her tail wagging constantly. Broderick said Nala already seemed more energetic now that the source of her pain was removed.
She was one of two boerboels, the mastiff-type breed that originated in South Africa, surrendered to the shelter in June by the same owner. After the other, named Marques, was adopted a little while ago, Broderick noticed Nala "come out of her shell."
Broderick said Nala loves to be cuddled and would thrive in a home with a fenced-in yard and where she's the only pet in the household. She wants Nala to find a home where she loved right back, as boerboels are known to be "very loving of their people, and very protective of their people."
Whoever adopts Nala should pay attention to her left eye to watch for signs of glaucoma. Broderick said there are typically higher veterinary costs associated with owning large dogs compared to smaller ones.
The Berkshire Humane Society and the Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital both reported a substantial increase in demand during the pandemic.
"It hasn't slowed down since March," Perreault said.
While many dogs are matched with an owner quickly, medical issues and the prospect of high veterinary bills can be a barrier to adoption for dogs with special needs.
Perreault said the Berkshire Humane Society pays for procedures like Nala's through donations made to its Ken Freeberg Fund, increasing the chance dogs with special needs will find their forever home.
Amanda Burke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.
The Ken Freeberg Fund accepts donations for dogs with special needs, and Marques is the name of Nala's former companion. The names of each were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.