Guide dog leads to liberation for visually impaired
GRAEME Raines has been vision impaired for almost 10 years and said having labrador Levi by his side for the past two and a half years has been life changing.
"I did all the training and I worked my way up to a guide dog," Mr Raines said.
"It was a big relief. It's taken a lot of pressure off me and made me a bit more mobile. I can get around quite well."
He said recognising International Guide Dog Day held yesterday, meant a lot to him and those who were vision impaired.
The theme of this year's day was Guide Dogs can go anywhere and CEO Barb Tasker said the charity was recognising facilities and services that honoured that theme.
Ms Tasker said based on feedback from the 200 vision-impaired people they worked with across the Wide Bay region, that recognition was this year going to Duffy's City Buses.
Mr Raines said his mobility was enhanced by the service. He said he could hop on a bus in Bundaberg and be assisted by the trained drivers who always had a seat waiting for him.
As Mr Raines and Levi stood calmly yesterday afternoon among the hustle and bustle of the busy, noisy bus stop at Sugarland Shoppingtown, he gave thanks to Duffy's City Buses manager Chris Duffy and one of the service's drivers.
Mr Raines signalled for Levi to sit and together they waited as the bus driver slowly rolled along and pulled up right in front of the pair before lowering the bus for boarding.
"They're really polite and that's not only to me, I've heard that from other guide dogs users too," he said.
Guide Dogs Queensland community relations officer Nerida Hepple said the theme of Guide Dogs can go anywhere was a really important one to promote in the community.
Ms Hepple said a guide dog was not a pet and did not need permission to go into a cafe, supermarket, and hospital or anywhere with the person it was aiding.
She said the theme was a good reminder to the public that a guide dog had the same right as any sighted member of the public to enter any location with their handler.
There are about 100 people across Australia waiting for a guide dog.
Guide dogs assist more than 200 people and families in the Wide Bay region.
It costs $30,000 to breed, raise and train each guide dog in Queensland.
Two years is invested into each dog before it can qualify as a working guide dog.