Guide dog helps out his owner

Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph | News -

They say dogs are a man’s best friend — and in Wel­lard res­i­dent Eric Seery’s case you’d be hard pressed to tell any­one oth­er­wise.

Mr Seery met his match last Novem­ber when he was in­tro­duced to guide dog Sun­dae for the very first time, with the pair cel­e­brat­ing a spe­cial mile­stone last Thurs­day.

Hosted by Guide Dogs WA, Mr Seery and Sun­dae grad­u­ated in a Bab­bin­gur Cer­e­mony — with Bab­bin­gur rep­re­sent­ing a Noon­gar word which de­scribes a very loyal and de­voted friend­ship.

Mr Seery, who has been blind since he was a child af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with Star­gardt dis­ease aged eight, said his loss of vi­sion was sud­den and un­ex­pected.

“One day in Year 3 I was able to read the black­board from the back of the class and the next day I couldn’t,” Mr Seery said. “My sight has slowly de­te­ri­o­rated over the years to the point where I can mag­i­cally make a pass­ing bus dis­ap­pear if I look right at it.”

Now work­ing for Depart­ment of Mines and Petroleum, Mr Seery said Sun­dae had helped him de­crease his so­cial anx­i­ety.

“I have found that it can be re­ally dif­fi­cult to explain to peo­ple that I have bad eye­sight,” Mr Seery said.

“Be­ing with Sun­dae helps im­prove peo­ple’s as­sump­tions about my dis­abil­ity. Walk­ing with a guide dog feels so nat­u­ral com­pared to us­ing the cane.”

Train­ing a guide dog takes at least two years and costs more than $35,000, with Mr Seery keen to stress that while Sun­dae’s har­ness is on she is hard at work.

“I try to con­trol her in­ter­ac­tions with peo­ple so she doesn’t ex­pect pats and cud­dles each time I stop to talk with some­one, as it can be very dis­tract­ing,” he said.

“I’m sure it is the hardest thing in the world to do, but please ig­nore a guide dog when you see one.”

More than 40,000 West Aus­tralians are vi­sion im­paired or blind, with the num­ber ex­pected to dou­ble by 2020.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Guide Dogs WA or to help do­nate visit www.guide­dogswa.com.au.

Pic­ture: Guide Dogs WA

Wel­lard res­i­dent Eric Seery and guide dog Sun­dae share a close bond.

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