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Eric graduates with sweet treat Sundae

Wellard resident Eric Seery met his match back in November when he was introduced to Guide Dog Sundae. “From the start, I had a strong, positive feeling about Sundae, and her small size and exceptional skill at tucking under seats made the match even better,” explained Eric.

Eric smiles as black labrador Guide Dog Sundae looks at him and snuggles in to his chin

Eric and Sundae have a special bond

And on Thursday 22 June, the pair celebrated a major milestone together, graduating in a Babbingur Ceremony hosted by Guide Dogs WA. Babbingur is a Nyoongar word that describes a ‘very loyal and devoted friendship.’

Eric has been blind since he was a child: he was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease when he was just 8 years old.

“My vision loss 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.”

“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, Eric works for the Department of Mines and Petroleum in East Perth and his colleagues have been overjoyed with the addition of Sundae to the team.

“My colleagues love having her in the workplace, I think she brings light into everybody’s day. Sundae even has her own Dangerous Goods Officer ID badge!”

Since having Sundae, Eric has found his social anxiety has decreased, and “I have found that it can be really difficult to explain to people that I have bad eyesight. Being with Sundae helps improve people’s assumptions about my disability.”

“Sundae has taken so much pressure off of me, which I held just to maintain my independence.”

“I have really enjoyed the difference Sundae has made. Walking with a Guide Dog feels so natural compared to using the cane. Getting a Guide Dog has been a life-changing experience.”

Eric is very appreciative when the public are educated about what to do when they see a Guide Dog, and reminds people that “while she has her harness on, she’s hard at work.”

“Sundae absolutely loves attention and cuddles. 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.”

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

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