Since getting my guide dog, Loie, my life has changed completely. Loie became a part of my family on the 3rd of August last year.
My daily morning routine now begins with a quiet whimper and the loud thudding of Loie’s tail hitting my chest of drawers. Like an alarm clock, she will become progressively louder and if I do not get up after a few minutes, then she will usually come around and rest her big black nose on the edge of my bed, licking my face if it’s in reach; this usually means it is time for breakfast.
Breakfast consists of dog biscuits and a loud whistle – this is the sound she recognises as “time to eat!” I have had her for just over seven months now and in this short time we have developed an amazing partnership, it feels like we have been together for so much longer.
Before getting Loie I had a very limited independence and mobility, I was unable to go anywhere without a sighted person. However, Loie is my constant companion and is a point of conversation everywhere I go. When Loie and I go out together it is very different from taking out a typical pet as she is my guide dog and can accompany me wherever I go. Loie has given me freedom and independence that I never dreamt would be possible. I am now able to independently catch public transport and navigate around my local area.
When Loie is working in her harness she is always very focused on where we’re going and the obstacles ahead of us. Loie is always so proud of herself when rewarded with praise after doing her job so well. Loie has such an incredibly unique personality, from her happy and enthusiastic energy to her apologetic puppy-dog face when she accidentally knocks over something with her powerful tail.
There are occasions in every dog’s life when a rule or two are broken, for example, the time when Loie ate two Christmas mince pies while no one was looking. It is in situations like these where I must be firm with her, but her reaction to this is to sit with her back to me and sulk, which can be pretty adorable.
Loie loves playing with her squeaky toy; it is the first thing she grabs after working in her harness for any length of time. Another way Loie’s cheeky, playful nature shines through is when I am grooming her. While I am trying to brush her she flops down on her back wanting a belly rub and when I am cleaning her face she will give me constant kisses trying to distract me from the task at hand which always make this enjoyable. I can’t imagine my life without Loie now and I am so grateful to all those who made it possible for her to be my very first guide dog and best friend.
The Blind Foundation Red Puppy Appeal street collection is on April 1 and 2. The annual appeal raises funds for the breeding and training of guide dogs. Keep an eye out for collectors on the streets, donate online at redpuppy.org.nz or text PUPPIES to 305 to donate $3.