For Gordon, the best thing about having his guide dog Ernie is the independence and increased mobility Ernie gives him.
“When you’ve got a guide dog… And you’ve worked with that dog for a while, you have confidence that you can just about travel anywhere.”
Gordon lost his remaining sight not long after he moved to New Zealand with his family.
To Gordon, life felt bleak.
“Once I’d lost sight, I didn’t know how to live my life after that. Not only had I lost sight, I’d lost my occupation, so I’d lost my income. I had young children at that stage, I was not sure how to be a father without sight. How would it impact on my children? Also, Melanie, my wife, as well.”
Blind Low Vision NZ gave me a sense of support
“I think it gives you a sense of support that there’s an organisation out there in Blind Low Vision NZ that understands the needs that you have, and our needs are different to other people’s needs.” Gordon says.
“It’s knowing that if you do have some challenge that there’s an organisation that’s there to support you. They’ve most likely dealt with someone with a similar challenge at some stage, so you can get good, useful advice from them. It’s knowing that there’s that raft of services for us and I think I’ve used just about every one of those services at some stage.”
“I was terrified to move outside”
Gordon began with assistance for daily living as he adjusted to being without sight, then moved onto mobility.
“When I first lost my sight, I found it almost terrifying to leave the house, because just getting to the letterbox and back without taking a diversion into the flower beds was an achievement.”
Gordon’s world was further restored with access to technology, so that he again had access to information, from everything from computers to letters.
“Getting a dog was a no brainer for me”
Getting a guide dog just seemed like the obvious thing to do for Gordon.
“I’ve always been a dog person and my family are dog people, so it was really a no brainer for me.”
“Having a guide dog gave me back the pleasure of just walking. You’ve got your hand on the harness, and you can think about everything and just enjoy the environment that you’re in. It makes a huge difference. I use the cane just occasionally around the office, but generally it’s Ernie and myself, all the way.”
“At the office, Ernie’s everybody’s friend. At home, he probably gets away with things that guide dogs aren’t meant to be doing. He stretches out on the couch. He sleeps on the bed. He’s very much part of the family.”
Gordon has also used the Blind Low Vision NZ library service and was introduced to sports. He tried out the tandem bicycle, then went on to become a champion blind lawn bowls player.
Thank you to everyone who contributes to Blind Low Vision NZ. You help to provide services and support to people like Gordon.