One day we noticed that Bronco’s eyes were red, so we took him to the veterinarian. He was around one year old at the time. The veterinarian told us that Bronco had conjunctivitis and that all we needed to do was give him eye drops. But giving a very big dog eye drops turned out to be a lot more challenging than we had anticipated. “Just give him three drops two times a day”—easy peasy, right? Well, the veterinarian might as well have told us to wrestle a bear on a tightrope while juggling.
Whenever we approached Bronco with the eyedropper, he ran off. Almost nothing else scared him—thunder and lightning, explosions, large hail, other big dogs, noisy crowds—but he was terrified of eye drops. Once we would catch up with him, he would thwart any attempt on our part to put the drops in. He would jump up and down while violently shaking his head back and forth and closing his eyes. So Claudia and I and Jacob and David decided we needed to do it all together.
We made what we thought was a great plan: two people were going to hold Bronco down on the floor while keeping his head still. A third person would hold his eyelids open, and a fourth person would put in the eye drops, being careful not to touch his eyes in the process. Poor Bronco was certainly not going to like it, but what else could we do? He needed his medicine.
We chased Bronco around the house and finally caught him in the living room. He struggled, but we were able to hold him down. However, before we could open his eyelids, he made a sudden and powerful move that got all five of us rolling like a giant snowball into the metal pet gate that stood between the family room and the living room. With a loud bang, we crashed into the gate. The screws that fastened it to the wall popped out and shot across the room. We had turned into a messy dog-and-people pile on the floor.
Bronco was the first one to get up. As he stood and surveyed the carnage, we acknowledged our defeat. Claudia put away the eye drops. I put the pet gate in the garage. No more eye drops; no more pet gate; no more forcing anything on Bronco. He had been victorious in the Eye Drop War, and he knew it.
As it happened, the conjunctivitis healed without the drops. We would later learn that it is possible to get eye drops into a Leonberger’s eyes without going to war.
Pray that you don’t have to give your Leonberger eye drops, but if you do, first ask your veterinarian for instructions. If those don’t work, take a step-by-step approach: give the dog a treat for standing still, then a treat for letting you hold his head, then a treat for allowing the drops in his eyes. You can also warm the drops in your pocket so they don’t feel cold.
For other helpful tips, see Videojug, “How to Apply Dog Eye Drops,” at
uploaded April 12, 2011