I went blind in 2010, which was a terrible shock and curtailed my movement and threatened my independence. I really was in a position that I wasn’t able to get out and about unaccompanied and I would need to be taken out to places which made me feel very helpless. It was devastating not being able to pick where I was going to go without making arrangements for support. I had lived a very busy and independent lifestyle.

Betty sitting on a bench with Guide Dog Hattie

To try to regain some of my independence, we researched mobility aids and learned about long cane training which was coming up in Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. When I was there, I began to think about a Guide Dog and how fantastic it would be if I was accepted for same. I had all my life loved dogs and hoped I would be a suitable candidate.

Betty & her Guide Dog Hattie standing under a band stand
Betty & her Guide Dog Hattie standing under a band stand

In 2011 we began the process and pre-checks; home and mobility to check my suitability. After successful completion, I went for training to assess my suitability to successfully work with a Guide Dog and that the Guide Dog that they had selected for me was a great match. I completed my training with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in Cork and graduated with my Guide Dog with excellent guidance from our instructors.

Betty walking with Guide Dog Hattie

After we got home there was further supervision given to check that we would be familiar with our local routes. This really helped bring on my confidence and my trust in my Guide Dog to take me around safely.

Betty hugging her Guide Dog Hattie

My ‘black beauty’s’ name is Hattie. She is a black Labrador and is the most wonderful asset to me. For us, nowhere is a problem anymore. We use public transport, we go shopping, we take trips, attend functions, we even go to the races. Hattie has even travelled with her pet passport with me on planes on numerous foreign holidays.

We are a great team. She is so loving and a loyal companion to me and I can’t imagine life without her.

I know I have benefited from the diligence of the Puppy Raisers that instilled such excellent social skills and the trainers at Guide Dogs that gave her the expertise to be the excellent Guide Dog that she is and I will be eternally grateful to them. Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is a wonderful organisation and deserve to be supported in any way possible.

View all stories