Dogs really are a person's best friend
IT looks like dogs really are a person’s best friend.
For 23-year-old Sarah Heyes from Horwich, dogs have played a vital part in her life and helped her and her family to overcome some real challenges.
Sarah’s father, Derek Heyes, aged 63 has been blind since the age of eight, following an accident, and so has relied on guide dogs for most of his life.
And that reliance and sense of companionship grew after Sarah’s mother, Jayne, who was also blind, passed away from cancer at the age of 35 — when Sarah was aged just nine.
“The bond between my dad and his guide dog Greg is amazing,” said Sarah.
Inspired by the important role that dogs have played in her father’s life — Sarah set up her own business “Paws 4 Thought” in 2008, and offers a range of dog services including walking, home boarding and home visits.
She said: “I was inspired to set up the business because I had seen the bond between my father and his dogs — and also my mother was a real animal person, I know she would be proud of what I’m doing.”
She added: “Growing up with blind parents was not an issue for me— I had a wonderful childhood, full of love but losing my mum at such a young age was tough, I had to grow up really quickly.”
Sarah struck up a friendship with fellow dog lover Nicola, aged 23, from Sharples when she was looking for a new guide dog for her father.
Nicola, who runs her own dog walking service, called Happy Hounds, had been “puppy walking” a guide dog called Oz — which went on to become Derek’s new companion.
Nicola said: “Sarah wanted to get in touch with me to find out more about Oz — and we have stayed close ever since, I think we were drawn together by our love of dogs.”
Sarah added: “When we meet up we don’t only talk about dog stuff — but that is usually the main topic of conversation.”
Last year the girls put their heads together and organised a fundraising quiz, which raised more than £2,000 for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
And on August 30 they will be running a quiz and auction night at Bradshaw Cricket Club — but this year all proceeds will be split between Guide Dogs for the Blind and Breast Cancer Care.
Sarah said: “They are two charities that are important to me and we are hoping to beat last year’s total.”
For more information contact Sarah on 07912359689 or alternatively people can donate specifically to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association at justgiving.com/allforguidedogs.
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