IT It was a case of two very different Labradors spotted in a Singleton car park last week but despite their size differences they were both promoting one message - how best to assist the vision impaired in our community.
The world’s biggest guide dog named Gulliver rolled into town in the back of a trailer, a massive 4.3 metre height frame weighing 690 kilograms.
Gulliver more than dwarfed the well trained guide dog Kelly whose owner Eileen King is happy to support the campaign launched by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to promote their activities and try to convince governments to use the planned National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to fund mobility services for the vision impaired.
Mrs King who lives at Greenlands said since the arrival of Kelly into her life five years ago her independence and self confidence had been substantially lifted.
Kelly waits quietly as Mrs King gives piano lessons but then enjoys doing her work guiding her owner safely around Singleton.
Gulliver will travel around Australia to raise awareness of the Guide Dog work which operates solely on donation and no government assistance.
But the big message the organsiation wants to gain from Gulliver’s appearances is the push for mobility and orientation services funding for the vision impaired under the proposed NDIS.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Hunter Valley manager John Payne said orientation and mobility services made it possible for people with impaired vision to be independent.
“It enables them to participate in the community as they can go to school to university, go to work and pursue social and sporting interests without having to rely on others to take them.” he said.
Mr Payne said under current plans for the NDIS people over 66 years would not receive any assistance.
“And that’s a big problem because at that age is when many people start to suffer from impaired vision mostly due to age related macular degeneration,” he said.
“Our campaign aims to highlight these problems with the existing proposals of the NDIS and promote the general work of the Guide Dogs.
“We rely completely on donations and as it costs $30,000 to train each guide dog we need a great deal of community and corporate support.”