TRENTHAM’S Alan Roberts’ mobility was severely limited by tunnel vision until nearly three years ago.
But then he received his seeing eye dog Nikki, paving the way for a new lease on life.
“She’s amazing,” Mr Roberts said. “In Trentham she’s loved by everyone. She’s famous.
“She’s absolutely my companion, she never leaves my side.”
A labrador-golden retriever cross, Nikki helps Mr Roberts with using public transport, doing his shopping and even walking to the local newsagent.
“I trust her absolutely,”he said. “She’s given me new confidence.”
Mr Roberts, who has had an eye condition all his life, but wasn’t diagnosed until 1986, received Nikki in 2010.
He was amazed by the $30,000 price tag to train each dog.
“People have got no idea,” he said. “They don’t appreciate how much it costs to train them.”
Seeing Eye Dogs Australia (SEDA) is visiting Ballarat next week for an information session. Trial walks and demonstrations will take place, and SEDA national client services manager Harry Vanderjagt said people who are blind or have limited vision were encouraged to attend.
“These seeing eye dogs have gone through a strict training program to ensure the safety of their clients and allow them to travel freely and independently,” Mr Vanderjagt said.
“With limited government funding, SEDA depends on the support of the public to enable their services to continue, and we hope the presentation will encourage community members to consider volunteering with us.”
The session, to be held next Monday at 2pm at 1300 Howitt Street, Wendouree, will cover breeding, puppy development, training, client eligibility, application, assessment and client training.
To register interest contact 5337 4555 by Friday. For more information on SEDA, go to www.seda.org.au.