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- Lisa and Romy
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Romy brings Lisa joy
Thank you Heidi
Anyone who’s ever had a pet knows the heartbreak of them reaching old age.
For ten dedicated years, Lisa’s beloved guide dog Heidi had led her faithfully everywhere she wanted to go. But finally it was time for Heidi to retire. Lisa was heartbroken. Her best friend. Her guide. Her safety net. Her independence. So it was with great sadness that Heidi’s harness was hung up for the last time.
Happily though, Heidi didn’t have to leave Lisa. She’s spending her retirement as a much loved pet with Lisa and her family. Lisa says that Heidi is getting all the love and attention she deserves.
Having a guide dog changed everything for Lisa
Lisa lost her sight aged 11 after a brain tumour affected the blood supply to the retinas of her eyes. That was the beginning of her relationship with Blind Low Vision NZ. “It started with things that could help me with schoolwork, like a talking computer,” says Lisa.
As a teenager Lisa learned to use her white cane. After several years without much sight, Lisa found her white cane gave her a level of independence she’d not had before. Suddenly she could do things on her own, and at 19 she managed to travel alone to Brisbane to stay with friends. “Oh my God, it’s just amazing,” she enthused after discovering what she could manage. “I really want this. There has to be so much more that I can do.” And there was. Especially when Lisa got her first guide dog Ami, who was with her for eight years.
After getting a guide dog, says Lisa, “my life has just literally never been the same. It’s just been amazing. There’s not enough words to put into words just exactly what you can get from a guide dog, because there’s so many aspects to it.”
“You’ve got the massive amount of independence to such a massive degree, along with just the safety. “
“You feel so safe, it’s just wonderful.”
After Heidi was retired, Lisa had a period of waiting before she could be matched with a new guide dog. She had to go back to relying on her white cane.
“It was so tiring. It’s extremely tiring. And you’ve got the interim things like your balance just goes a bit funny for a short period until you learn to work with the cane again. All these little things which I guess you wouldn’t think of.”
And, without a guide dog, Lisa found, “It’s really lonely. And the little things, like when I’m out, I’ve got to now ask people, ‘Where’s the toilet?’ instead of being able to find it myself thanks to my trusted guide dogs. Walking into a café and either feeling like an idiot because I walk somewhere which totally isn’t the counter, and then people are kind, ‘Are you okay?’ and I’m like, ‘No, actually I’m trying to find the counter.’ Whereas my gorgeous girl would find me the counter.”
So, it was with open arms that Lisa welcomed her new guide dog Romy. Quite coincidentally, Romy is the sister of Lisa’s first guide dog Ami – same dad, different mum. Like her guide other dogs, Romy is energetic and is happy to match Lisa’s fast walk.
Although still missing her lovely, familiar Heidi, Lisa is adjusting to Romy and taking her to lots of new places and people. “We’re creating new memories,” she says.
Guide dogs like Ami, Heidi and Romy can change the lives of Kiwis who are blind, deafblind or have low vision like Lisa. They give the gift of independence and freedom to do what others do. If you’re a Puppy Sponsor or donor to Blind Low Vision NZ, thank you or what you do for other New Zealanders. Thank you for your suppawt!