Gigantic guide dog on his way to Kempsey

GULLIVER, the world’s biggest guide dog, is heading off on a road trip across Northern NSW and making a pit stop in Kempsey tomorrow.

Instead of the family dog with its head out the window enjoying the breeze, the team from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will tow Gulliver, the giant fiberglass guide dog, who is 4.3 metres tall and too large to fit inside the car.

Stopping in Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Tamworth and Tweed Heads, the Guide Dogs team will remind the public about the huge role the organisation plays in helping people who are blind or vision impaired to safely, confidently and independently negotiate their environments.

“Like Gulliver on his travels throughout the ACT and NSW, our instructors travel to wherever our services are required,” Guide Dogs NSW/ACT regional manager Jeremy Hill said. 

“We come to you, wherever that may be – your home, your workplace, your school or university – helping you learn to find your way around your particular environment is a top priority.”

Eungai Creek resident Lewis Parkins, who is vision impaired and has been assisted by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT in learning how to navigate his environment with a long cane, encouraged the community to visit the information stand in Kempsey Riverside Park on May 17.

“I was 12 years old when my retina detached. From then on, my sight has been affected by glaucoma and cataracts. My optometrist referred me to Guide Dogs two years ago,” he said.

Mr Parkins, who is a current serving member of the NSW State Emergency Service, said those who are experiencing vision loss should meet the Guide Dogs team on the day to find out about the services offered by the organisation.

“It’s important for people to understand that Guide Dogs NSW/ACT offer other services beyond guide dogs. They can assist with various mobility aids and orientation and mobility specialists can offer advice on your own situation,” he said. 

Mr Hill emphasised that people do not have to be blind to receive services. 

“Anyone losing their sight is encouraged to contact us early, to reduce the risks of falls, accidents and depression.

“We can also assist with low vision aids including hand-held and desktop magnifiers, special lighting options, text-to-speech devices, digital audio books, screen reading and magnification software, and products to assist with activities of daily living.”

Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with vision loss that cannot be corrected, including nine who will become blind.

  • Kempsey residents can meet Gulliver and the Guide Dogs team on May 17 at Kempsey Riverside Park on Verge St from 10am to noon.
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