After a 25-year career transcribing books and other printed material into braille for people who are blind or have low vision, Haddon’s Cheryl Marshall is enjoying retirement alongside Sherry, her Seeing Eye Dog.
Cheryl, 75, has been blind since she was seven years old as result of an accident in her childhood. Sherry is Cheryl’s sixth Seeing Eye Dog, after she was matched with her first at age 17.
After the two were matched earlier this year, they’ve quickly become a tight-knit pair.
“Having a Seeing Eye Dog gives me a sense of freedom, I don’t have to rely on anyone else. Sherry gives me my independence back and means I can do things myself,” Cheryl said.
“Life with Sherry is a bit different to life with my other Seeing Eye Dogs. I used to travel two hours to and from Melbourne for work each day and now I don’t have to do that, life’s a bit more varied.
“Sherry’s had to get used to doing a lot of different things and be able to do them well. She comes with me to Probus Club meetings, my book clubs and my walking group. She really gets me out and about and out talking to people.”
Caption: With Sherry by her side, Cheryl has the confidence to be active in her local community
Sherry not only helps Cheryl participate in the activities she enjoys; their partnership also impacts how other people treat Cheryl.
“When you’re out with a Seeing Eye Dog, people seem to look upon you as an individual a bit more.
“If I’m out with my husband but without Sherry I find people will try to communicate with him rather than me. When you’ve got a Seeing Eye Dog with you, people seem to realise you’re still your own person.”
While Sherry has an important job in helping Cheryl navigate her way in the community, she’s also a loved companion like any other dog.
“She’s a very cuddly dog. I love the fact that when you’re sitting down she’ll come around and lie across your feet.
“If people come to visit, the first thing she does is got and get her toy llama and parade it about for everyone to see.
“We live on five acres so she has plenty of space to play, though I’m not sure she’s convinced about the neighbour’s sheep yet.”