Leigh woman's guide is one dog in 30,000
12:10pm Thursday 31st January 2013 in North West
RUSSELL the guide dog, the dependable partner of Joan Mee, is one dog in 30,000.
When Leigh woman Joan began training with Russell, a black Labrador cross Golden Retriever, they became the 30,000th guide dog partnership to be trained by the Guide Dogs charity Russell is Joan's second guide dog – and she thinks the world of him.
She said: “it is amazing to think Russell is the 30,000th guide dog. It is such a life changing thing and if it has changed my life just think what it has done for everyone else.”
And dog-about-town Russell has even been blessed by Father Stephen Cooper at Joan's church St Joseph's RC in Leigh.
Sixty-seven years-old Joan has been short sighted since birth. Glaucoma and macular degeneration has meant that her eyesight continued to deteriorate leaving her with hardly any useful vision. This had a devastating affect on Joan’s confidence and her mobility began to suffer.
Joan revealed how before getting her first guide dog, Crumble, life outside her home had practically stopped.
“I had stopped doing everything. I had not crossed the main Holden Road for two and a half years”, she said.
But she found that when accompanied by her guide dog people were willing to approach her and offer help.
Joan said: “With my dog I am no longer invisible.”
Richard Bounds, Guide Dogs Manchester mobility team manager, said “I'd like to add my congratulations to Joan and Russell. I'm sure they will go many places together and Joan will benefit greatly from the freedom and independence that Russell provides.
"To be the 30,000th partnership is a lovely bonus and what a massive number! It is testament to the long and successful history of Guide Dogs supporting people to live full and independent lives and feel empowered to achieve their goals.”
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