Image of Guide Dog Autumn with handler Tara

How one special Guide Dog has changed lives

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24 May, 2021

Imagine losing your sight rapidly and without warning! Now imagine that, at the time, you are young mum with an active life and a bubbly six-year-old daughter. A little girl who is frightened and confused about what is happening to her mum.

Guide Dog Autumn, handler Tara and her daughter LiaThat’s the story of Tara and her darling daughter Lia.

Tara, explains how her world came crashing down four years ago. “I had 20/20 vision and suddenly I was legally blind,” is how she describes it. Tara had attended multiple doctors when she started having issues with her vision, and initially, it was thought that she had allergies.

After a long wait for a specialist appointment, Tara and her husband Jonny were given the devastating news. Tara had Glaucoma, and it had already robbed her of much of her vision by the time she saw the Optometrist.

In Tara’s case, the prognosis was grim, and she says that she and her husband realised from the outset that her condition was serious.

“At the beginning it was hard for all of us and especially hard for Lia because she was quite young and didn’t really understand what was going on.”

Before she lost her sight, Tara says her life was carefree. “And then everything changed! My world got a lot smaller, and I felt trapped in our home.” Tara describes the frustration of missing out on the little things. “I couldn’t duck down to get a birthday card for my husband: I had to ask him to take me to get his own card…”

Most of all, Tara missed taking her little girl to school. “I so missed having those mother/daughter moments together,” she recalls. Tara was not alone: Lia was also grieving the loss of that special time with her mum.

“I was heartbroken as Lia was very upset in the mornings going to school with her friends, rather than walking with me. I just felt she was missing out on so much.”

Fast forward to March 2020, and Tara’s life once again took a major U-turn. That’s when this devoted mum was matched with her Guide Dog, Autumn.

“You lose confidence when you lose your eyesight but with Autumn by my side, I just have so much more confidence.

“She looks after me and it’s a lovely feeling. I just feel safe with her around.”

These days, Autumn is Tara’s constant shadow.

“She’s fun, caring, funny and adorable,” Tara explains. “She knows the routine. She waits for me when I am doing my housework, she’s already in the next room in her spot. My husband works night shifts, so I feel calm when she is around.”

Guide Dog Autumn as a puppyLife has returned to a new kind of normal for this young family. Weather permitting, Tara and Autumn walk Lia to school “and then she is just by my side the rest of the afternoon while I am doing my bits and bobs”. Tara loves to garden, and she says Autumn sits by her side the whole time. “She’s a wonderful companion.”

The most important gift Autumn has given to Tara, she says, is the gift of independence. “When I lost my sight, I was very trapped in our home, but Autumn has given me back some of my freedom that I’d lost.

“It feels really good when my husband is at work and I have dropped my daughter at school, and I am walking home by myself with my Guide Dog. I would had never thought that was a possibility in life!”

It is thanks to kindness and generosity of the Western Australian community that Tara and her family’s life has been changed. Please donate today to help Guide Dogs WA raise and train more remarkable dogs to give the gift of independence to more Western Australians like Tara.

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