Since Pat’s husband of 36 years died suddenly, she has felt isolated, vulnerable and exposed. And, being blind, she has good reason, too.
Pat’s vulnerability was highlighted not long after husband passed, when callous thieves first broke into her house, while she was still at home! Knowing she was blind, they crept behind her, while she was pruning roses in the garden, straight through her front door!
“It was very frightening – I felt really scared and very unsettled.”
She has been targeted three times now – and according to Pat, there’s nothing left for them to take anymore.
“Everything’s gone. Every personal memento of my life is gone. A cherished silver ornament, jewellery from my mother, a family heirloom. All gone now”.
As a younger woman, Pat had full vision; she enjoyed playing sport, being outdoors and had a young family and home to look after. She started noticing problems with her vision when she was a teacher, in the 1980’s. She thought the children had hidden the chalk when she couldn’t find it at the blackboard or that low quality pencils were to blame when she couldn’t read their written work.
She never admitted it to anyone, including herself. But, when she drove over a kerb, in front of a policeman, she couldn’t deny it any longer. After he insisted that she get her eyes checked, she was told she had Macular Dystrophy, a rare genetic eye disorder. Within two years, Pat’s vision had gone completely.
With a busy family home to run, Pat just “needed to get on with her life”. A Guide Dog helped her to do just that. More than just a sight guide, they bring emotional security, independence and dignity. Austin is Pat’s fourth Guide Dog and without him, life would be very difficult.
“Walking anywhere on my own, would be just too scary. Without Austin, I would be afraid to leave the house.”
Activities that we might take for granted, like going to the shop or for a coffee with a friend are now possible for Pat, with the help of Austin. He can see things she can’t see and guides her safely around them. Things like low hanging branches, broken pavements or bikes left on the footpath. Pat cannot imagine walking anywhere without him.
Pat says of Austin: “He’s just delightful! I heard he graduated top of his class, and I know why. He is an exceptional guide and very gentle and quiet.”
Here at Guide Dogs WA, we train Guide Dogs and Austism Assistance Dogs that make life-changing differences to people and their families across Western Australia. Each pup costs more than $48 per day and, with 37 puppies and young dogs in our training program, we can’t do this without your help.
Your donation can help to support our ongoing dog training programs and provide a new lease of life for a child or adult with a disability.