“My guide dog makes a huge difference. And, she’s also my best friend.”

Jess has been blind since she was 18 days old. The three guide dogs she has had, Iona, Yani and now Jade, all funded by donations from kind New Zealanders like you, have really given Jess confidence and independence.

Jade, the loving, clever, loyal black Labrador at Jess’ side is her third guide dog, and the one with which Jess has the most special bond.

“She’s not just my mobility aid, she is my world,” says Jess.

All guide dog users must be capable with a white cane, as is Jess. But she much prefers her guide dog.

“With Jade, I don’t feel vulnerable. When I’ve got her next to me, I know that things are going to be fine. Guide dogs work with you as a team, and it just takes the pressure off.”

“She takes me around all the obstacles, which I don’t even know are there half the time and I don’t have to worry about judging where they are or how to get around them.”

“I’d be lost without her.”

A big milestone for Jess has been gaining the freedom and independence to walk her daughter Ella to school.

“It’s a very big deal considering it took me till just after Ella turned four to actually be able to go out with her by myself, independently. That’s a big, big deal. It’s absolutely brilliant.”

Jess enjoys a variety of services from Blind Low Vision NZ and she is eternally grateful for the support she receives.

One lovely experience has been getting braille colouring books that she can do with her daughter.

“It’s amazing to see what a colouring in book actually looks like. I knew that you had to colour in the lines, and pictures, but I never actually knew that’s what they looked like. Before, it was just a whole bunch of print pages. So to actually feel where the edges are lets me see one in braille form. It’s very cool. And it has the name of the picture as well, in braille.”

Jess loves the Talking Books that she downloads to her phone via BookLink.

She also enjoys cooking using braille recipes, and what is known as ‘twin’ storybooks – written in Braille and English – that she can read with her sighted daughter.

Jess has a heartfelt message for all supporters of Blind Low Vision NZ: “Thank you to everyone who donates to Blind Low Vision NZ. I wouldn’t have this beautiful guide dog if it weren’t for you.”