Pet Horse and Farm recently sponsored Nick Gleeson, vision impaired athlete and international explorer, in his successful completion of a marathon on a cool Melbourne morning.
We asked Nick to tell us a little bit about the relationship between a vision impaired person and their Seeing Eye dog and we think his thoughts make pretty good reading for any fellow pet lover!
“I sit at my computer and want to write about my wonderful Seeing Eye dog called Unity, but the words are hard to find, hard to find because he is so much part of me. His name is Unity, and, he is now almost 6 years old, a gorgeous golden retriever who is often described as a lion (we think Unity has picked up the lion-like courage from his owner!).
Unity is my first Seeing Eye Dog and destiny brought us together. I was in Melbourne at an AGM where Unity was doing his public relations role as he had just finished his training to become a working dog. He came over to me and sat on my feet. I knew the very moment I touched him, I so wanted him. However, of cause, there is a waiting list, a process that needs to ensure each partnership between dog and person is suitable and we had to wait. It seemed such a long time waiting, however, the reality was that we were assessed and found to be a great match. And, the time frame between meeting and becoming a partnership was very fast.
We have now been together four years and it is fantastic. We both experience separation anxiety when we are not together. I am lucky that he does not show outward distress when I leave him but it is awful when I am away from him for a few days.
Unity is far more than just a “working dog”, he is a tremendous friend. A great support with everyday living and brings joy into my life. I love how he guides me around objects on footpaths and through a crowd. I love how every step I take he is watching out for me and to think that is his role in life is so amazing. He can be quite stubborn at times, especially when we have had a very long day, catching trains, buses, taxis and walking as he will make decisions such as using the lift rather than the stairs, which is fine, only that I had told him to find the stairs, smiling.
I love how unity will find things when I need them, for example, I just say to him, “find the stairs”, “find a seat” or “find the gate”, and he does it.
I was at a Meeting recently where the group witnessed one of Unity’s dream specialties. When he dreams he will often be so vocal and we can only imagine what is happening. His favourite leisure time is chewing on a bone, which I love giving him as I always think that is his link to his history and his reward for being such a fabulous boy.
He has had a profound impact on my life and I love him so much.”
If you would like to support Seeing Eye Dogs Australia or Blind Sports Victoria please go to their websites listed below.