Cannonvale's Judi Williams with her guide dog Rosa.
Cannonvale's Judi Williams with her guide dog Rosa. Monique Preston

Rosa brings Judi freedom

FOR Judi Williams, her guide dog provides her an opportunity for freedom and independence.

The Cannonvale resident suffers from the disease Retinitis Pigmentosa, which means she can only see about five degrees of a 180 degree view.

Late last year, she got guide dog Rosa who has opened up her world again.

"I was so happy because for the first time was able to walk to the Fat Frog (Café). Her and I did it by ourselves and had a coffee,” Ms Williams said.

Instead of relying on a white cane, Ms Williams now has Rosa to guide her, although the pair is on a learning curve together.

A support worker still goes with the pair on many of their walks, just walking behind them and lending a hand when needed.

Rosa is one of two newly trained guide dogs in the area.

Guide Dog Services team leader Jason Stankoski said people needed to remember to give the dogs plenty of space as they navigated their way around.

"We know everyone will be very excited to meet the new guide dogs but we need everyone to give them lots of space to learn at this crucial stage in their journey,” he said.

Mr Stankoski said being aware of how to act around guide dogs would help them focus on getting to their destination safely and ensure they could become a great team with their new handlers.

"There's no doubt these new recruits are very cute but while it can be tempting to say hello, we're relying on everyone in the community to ensure they are able to do their job without any unnecessary distractions,” he said.

"The most important things to remember are not to pat or feed them, even when they are resting, and to always speak directly to the person, not to the guide dog.”

Mr Stankoski also said it was vital that other dogs were always kept on lead when people were out and about, as any interruptions to the guide dog team's concentration can pose a danger to their safety.