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“She keeps me honest. I never go out without her, she’s with me always, so, therefore, there’s no trying to hide it, I'm always a vision-impaired person, and then life is a lot easier. I stick to the rules now, I always think about where I'm walking, where I'm crossing, what I'm doing.” 

When Cassie was 14 years old, she was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a condition that causes the loss of central vision from a young age. At the time, Cassie was told she shouldn't continue her studies due to the degenerative nature of her condition and was instead told to go straight into the workforce. After working in hospitality for many years, Cassie became a single mother and took it upon herself to reach out to Vision Australia, becoming a volunteer. Cassie has now been employed at Vision Australia for 17 years and is currently the Volunteer and Partnerships manager. “I still always have in my head, the notion that I'm fortunate to have a job, and I think that comes all the way back from being told since I was very young that I probably wouldn’t,” Cassie explains.  

As life went on, Cassie noticed she began finding reasons to say no to doing things in her life. As a result, in 2018, she began considering the prospect of owning a Seeing Eye Dog, and with the support of Vision Australia, was matched with Neesha in 2020. After the death of her parents, Neesha quickly became a huge support and source of comfort in all aspects of Cassie’s life. 

Cassie describes Neesha as a beautiful and social dog who is constantly wagging her tail. “She opens doors for me because she’s so social. She thinks anyone’s a friend, she wags her tail and people can’t help but come up for a chat … having a dog is the invitation to make the first interaction with strangers,” Cassie explains. 
Cassie says Neesha’s impact has given her “a new lease of life”, allowing her to stay in a routine and remain active and social. “She’s been a golden pass to things being more accessible. She keeps me doing the things I want to do,” she explains. “I’m not comfortable with silence or walking into a room alone. I’d stopped going to places where I didn’t know anyone there, but now, because I’ve got Neesha to walk in with, her and I are together, we help each other,” Cassie explains. “I would lead a much more quiet, less interactive life without her.” 

Cassie has a message of gratitude for Seeing Eye Dogs supporters and Petbarn: “There is nothing that compares to the difference Meesha has made in my life and you helped make it happen, thank you. Your kind donation brought about our match, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Cassie is reclined on the ground, with her Seeing Eye Dog Neesha sitting on her lap
Cassie and Neesha