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“If I had a Guide Dog, I wouldn’t have to live like this.”

Jacqui has led a challenging life and needs help. Although she was born with vision, Jacqui started to lose her sight in her 20s and now, she is blind.

These days, Jacqui lives with constant anxiety and panic—like many other Western Australians who come to us, she desperately needs help.

Like we would use our eyes, Jacqui relies on her ears to find her way around. But when she’s in a crowd of people, like at her local shopping centre or a busy train station, the voices come from everywhere and the chaos of noise overpowers her. She starts to panic and can’t control it. Cold sweats, anxiety, increased heart rate and dizziness—it consumes her so much she collapses.

Can you imagine how overwhelming a simple trip to the supermarket must be for Jacqui?

Jacqui walks along the footpath with her white caneJacqui’s life wasn’t always filled with fear. She was once lively and outgoing. She was a highly independent, confident, happy woman with lots of friends. She loved music and loved to dance.

But this all changed when Jacqui was in her late 20s. Black spots started to appear in front of her eyes and after visiting a specialist, she was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease; the most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration. Now, Jacqui is blind and she can only tell if it’s day or night—nothing more.

Jacqui became so depressed, that she even had thoughts of ending her life. Then one day, she realised: “I need help. I’m scared of what I might do to myself if something doesn’t change.”

Thankfully, she found help from VisAbility Guide Dogs WA and piece by piece, she began to rebuild her life.

Then Jacqui received the final piece of her puzzle – and he had four paws! Jacqui’s life was transformed, and suddenly, she was no longer alone. Jacqui and her Guide Dog Shadow were best friends.

But since then, Jacqui has faced more devastation. Her beloved Shadow had to retire early from the program for health reasons.

“Once again, I feel totally alone. I don’t feel confident. If I’m in a crowded room, I start to panic. I can’t focus. My heart races and I feel dizzy. I just have to get out of there. But I can’t find my way out!” said Jacqui.

A Guide Dog not only gives unconditional love and support, but acts as the eyes for someone like Jacqui, They have to be the perfect match in every way, and this can take time.

A new class of Guide Dogs in training will soon be matched with people who desperately need them.

Jacqui prays that she’ll find her perfect match in this class. But she’s not the only one on the waiting list. And there’s no guarantee that one of these dogs will suit Jacqui’s needs.

We want to find Jacqui her perfect match and give her the final piece of the puzzle to rebuild her life.

Your donation today will help Jacqui—and others like her—regain their independence through the gift of a precious Guide Dog.

Jacqui sits with a Guide Dog in training, Honey. Jacqui is smiling and laughing as she looks at Honey. Text: Donate Now

Many heartfelt thanks to Alex Cearns from Houndstooth Studio for photography.

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