12/12/2011 at 06:00 PM EST
Eighteen months ago, dogs Minnie and Mickie lived in darkness.
Bilateral cataracts robbed them both of their sight, so the brother-sister pair led a very careful existence – one ruled by scents and sounds.
But thanks to a risky eye surgery that restored their sight, the Cavalier King Charles spaniels are seeing new things every day.
"Probably the most incredible thing was when they looked at us in the eye because they never did that before," their owner Carol Reeves tells PEOPLE. "So all of a sudden, after the surgery, they could pick up a treat from your hand which they would have had to sniff for before."
Mickie and Minnie have come a long way since Reeves decided to foster the pups from the Many Tears Animal Rescue
in Cefneithin, Wales, when they were just 8-weeks-old.
"I have a wonderful pack of cavaliers, so they did mix brilliantly with them," says Reeves, who runs an animal charity and fosters pets in her free time. "When the others sort of ran out and charged off, Mickie and Minnie stuck together. They cuddled together. They were more careful."
The pup's eyes were riddled with issues, including fibroids and retinal detachment, which made surgery very risky. But Tim Knott, a vet from the Rowe Veterinary Group
in Bristol, England, offered to fix their cataracts in April, when the dogs were just 6 months old, for a discounted price.
"He's been exceptionally kind," Reeves says.
Though Minnie's left eye couldn't be saved, the pair are now fully recovered and run around the agility courses at Reeves's home in Wiltshire, England – just like other dogs their age.
"Before, they didn't necessarily smell toys but now they see toys and they play tug of war," says Reeves. "They're much more aware of all those kinds of things. They don't have to be so nervous of anything really – they just lead a really normal life."
The one thing that hasn't changed is their incredible bond.
"They're currently asleep next to me. On top of each other as usual," says Carol's daughter, Natasha Reeves. "They are completely inseparable, they adore each other."