Before Harlow came into Leah’s life, this bright, courageous 29-year-old had to limit her choices.
Now with Harlow by her side, nothing can hold her back.
Imagine, just for a moment, trying to plan your entire day, step by step, before you even set foot out of the house.
That’s what life was like everyday for Leah – before Harlow.
At just 29, Leah is already forging an exemplary career as an academic. Fiercely independent and highly articulate, Leah has achieved outstanding success. She has almost completed a PhD and is a lecturer in Law at the University of New South Wales.
Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of four, Leah has central vision, but no peripheral or night vision. Leah is able to move freely and independently in areas she knows. But as she became more independent and ambitious, her low vision was an increasing challenge.
‘Every day, I was exhausted, just from trying to get from A to B. I stopped going out. I had to change my entire schedule at University so I could be home before dark. I felt so frustrated,’ said Leah.
‘I was actually having to say to myself, I can’t do that, because it will be too hard to get home. If I wanted to go out and meet friends, I had to plan my trip within an inch of its life and watch the clock to make sure I could get home safely. I really hated that.’
When Leah started having to use her white cane almost all the time and felt herself losing confidence, she decided it was time to apply for a Seeing Eye Dog.
‘Because I still had some vision, I didn’t think I’d be eligible – but I was wrong!'
‘I started to feel real excitement and hope for the future. Then I joined the waiting list – and waited and waited. It was so hard.'
After a long wait Leah was finally matched with her Seeing Eye Dog Harlow.
‘I didn’t realise how much effort it took to manage everything until I didn't have to do it anymore. Harlow has truly changed my life. My world has opened up again!’
This is truly a life-changing partnership, bringing out the best in both Leah and Harlow. But there are so many other people who are blind or have low vision, also waiting for a dog like Harlow. And the wait is far too long.