A dog’s bond knows no bounds, and it’s not just reserved for humans. In the case of Siberian husky Sterling and Alaskan Malamute Walker, the best dog friends have become even closer as Sterling has needed some extra help from his family. Nearly four years ago, the Siberian husky was diagnosed with glaucoma—a condition that caused him to go blind. Now, Walker is acting as Sterling’s unofficial guide dog.
Lillian and Martin McKee are the pup’s loving owners. “The boys are very bonded and have been for a very long time,” Lillian shares with My Modern Met. “They are both rescues and were rescued from Texas Sled Dog Rescue when I lived in Houston about a year apart from each other. They are also about a year apart in age.”
The dogs have long relied on each other to face fears and new challenges. “Walker was actually quite scared of new things when I got him but he learned from Sterling that life in the big world could be fun and not so scary, that car rides lead to fun things and places, and that people, even scary men, can give lots of love and attention. We moved to Seattle about six and a half years ago and the boys' bond grew even stronger with more outdoor adventures.”
In June 2018, Lillian and Martin noticed that Sterling's eyes were starting to get cloudy, and he was diagnosed with the eye condition after that. “Sterling took it like a champ,” Lillian recalls. “We actually went hiking right after the diagnosis. We promised Sterling that his life would not change with the diagnosis but I was terrified that I would not be able to keep that promise. As Sterling's vision started to fade, we fought the inevitable blindness that would come with canine glaucoma.” For 18 months, they fought to preserve Sterling’s sight and even incorporated RexSpecs—goggles made specifically for dogs—in order to protect his eyes.
Despite his loss of sight, Sterling still does many of the things he loves. “He still runs with Martin and Walker regularly,” Lillian explains. “We still hike with friends and we still volunteer with Washington Alaskan Malamute Rescue. We didn't notice much of a change except that his bond with all of us has grown stronger. He is more of a mama's boy and we noticed he really only wrestles and plays with Walker, whereas before he would play with other dog friends.”
The two pups are so bonded that they miss each other when one is away. Lillian bathes them together, they nap near one another, and they enjoy outdoor adventures together. They are also respectful of one another, particularly Walker.
“One of the things I have noticed with a lot of blind dog ‘siblings’ is that the sighted dog gets mad at the blind dog often for bumping into them. This is not an issue with the boys,” Lillian says. “Sterling bumps Walker often and Walker usually just gets up and moves or if Walker sees Sterling coming his way, he will get up and move. I don't know if he actually knows Sterling is blind because he still follows Sterling's lead on a lot of things, but he is incredibly considerate of Sterling, so he either knows and just respects Sterling or just respects Sterling as an older sibling.”
Lillian and Martin chronicle the boys’ lives on their Instagram account, @sterlingandwalker. Follow along to see what the two are up next.
Siberian husky Sterling and Alaskan Malamute Walker are the best of dog friends.
In June 2018, Sterling was diagnosed with canine glaucoma, which caused him to lose his sight.
Luckily, he had Walker and his human parents Lillian and Martin by his side.
They bought him special dog goggles in order to help protect his vision.
With Walker as his unofficial guide dog and his parents by his side, Sterling is still able to do the things he loves…
…including outdoor adventures around the Pacific Northwest.
Sterling and Walker: Instagram