Edited: Now that I’m home and not posting from my phone, I thought I’d add a little more info.
CERF (for those who are not familiar) is an eye exam that looks carefully at the structures of the eye and the eyelids and lashes. Because of the way the eye grows and changes, a CERF evaluation is only “good” for 12 months. Some breeds require CERF pretty constantly; Goldens, for example, are supposed to get them every six months when they’re puppies because of the particular types of eye issues in Goldens.
In Cardigans, the only common (and thankfully not very common) eye problem that would change as the dog ages is PRA; fortunately there are relatively few Cardis with anything to worry about in terms of PRA now that testing is so universal. It’s arguable that the other eye issues that CERF would typically pick up are so rare in this breed that not every Cardigan “needs” a CERF. For me, though, since these are not my lines and I want to make absolutely sure I am tracking every issue that could possibly come up, I wanted to get her checked out.
The dog has to have its pupils dilated, so the first step is drops in the eyes. You get to sit around for ten minutes or so while the drops take effect, which is roughly (during a CERF clinic) like sitting ringside before Group. Beside me was a person with two Chinese Cresteds, across the aisle were a couple of Goldens, two Poodles had just finished, and a beautiful black and tan Coonhound bitch was on her way in. It was all breeders, so of course you swap stories of health issues and breedings, snark about a particularly nasty handler, sneak in a brag about the big win you just had, and admire the lovely dogs all around you.
The exam itself includes two separate views of the eye by a vet ophthalmologist. She uses a magnifier and looks first at the shallowest layers of the eye to make sure there are no injuries, membranes, or ulcers; she looks at the lids and the lashes to make sure everything fits properly against the eye. Then she puts on a piece of headgear that looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book about nighttime warfare, and also holds a magnifying lens in one hand (so she’s effectively creating a little spyglass), and then looks at the deeper structures in the retina and interior of the eye. The whole thing is very cool for a veterinary junkie like me, and I wish I could sit around for a few hours and stare at dog eyes.
The vet today was absolutely lovely, the whole thing was run beautifully (mad props to the Yankee Golden Retriever Club), and Clue was totally convinced that the entire thing was a huge party in her honor and wiggled and kissed people and had a glorious time.
Bronte had a normal CERF earlier this year, so we’re two for two in happy eyes. Not too shabby!