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“I now realise that as an older person when I'm waiting to cross a road and there’s no traffic lights, that I'm not the only one making that call, my dog is also there. We’re both in partnership in navigating dangerous areas, places and travel. I’m not on my own, he’s with me. As an older person, my awareness is not as good as it was. It’s great to know that he is looking out for me.” 

When Nick was just 7 years old, he lost all his sight in an accident. Luckily, Nick had the support of Vision Australia and his parents to guide him through this life change. Nick’s parents taught him that his blindness was only one part of his life and pushed him to embrace his life to the fullest. Fortunately, that is exactly what Nick did. 

Nick embraces life through his sense of adventure and love for sport. Nick has been a paralympic athlete, both a long-distance and marathon runner, played a season of blind AFL, and created a group called Blind Ambition, whose members set out to climb Africa’s highest mountain. Four members of the expedition were successful and reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Nick’s accomplishments do not end there, and his adventures became less lonely once matched with his first Seeing Eye Dog, Unity, in 2010.  

Following Unity’s passing, Nick was matched with his current Seeing Eye Dog, Jarvis, who Nick describes as “such a character, full of life, curious and enthusiastic.” When reflecting on life with a companion, Nick says the biggest impact is the fact that he can travel without having to worry as much.

Nick recognises the power of partnerships and the ability they have to foster change. “Like everything in my life, all the things I have achieved have always involved partnerships and this is just another partnership. A partnership that has enabled me to achieve a lot of travel goals, to work in partnership with that animal and to really find great satisfaction in life. Those are the sort of things a dog can bring that a cane cannot.” 

Nick reflects on one night when he was walking home with Unity. Having switched off for the day and thinking about dinner, Nick was not paying attention, and nor was his neighbour, as she pulled into her driveway whilst Nick and Unity were about to cross it. Luckily for both, Unity had not switched off. He was still alert and was able to pull Nick back, preventing him from being hit. “It just shows you that Unity was still concentrating, that’s when I realised the true value of him,” Nick says. 

“A Seeing Eye Dog could never be substituted, in the sense that they have the warmth, character and personality. It's the partnering and the working and bonding that is so important. It’s very hard to describe that in words. It’s that partnership, that bonding that creates huge possibilities and enables me to often do things I may not do without him. They provide a lot of support to me beyond the work that they do in a harness,” Nick adds. 

Nick has a message of gratitude for both Seeing Eye Dogs supporters and Petbarn for their ongoing partnership. “It’s partnerships that create success. All my life it’s been partnerships that create success. Anything is possible when a healthy partnership is formed, and people work together. Yes, Petbarn is a business and obviously, they need to make money, but they also understand the importance of giving back and what these dogs do, and they’re living examples of how they enable people with disabilities to achieve so much.”

Nick is standing outside, behind his Seeing Eye Dog.
Nick and Jarvis