Tony walks to his own beat with Seeing Eye Dog Drummer

08 November 2021

Fear and apprehension had become part of Tony Tully’s everyday life, but being matched with Seeing Eye Dog Drummer has helped the Helensvale local overcome that.

Tony, 58, was matched with Drummer earlier this year after his vision seriously deteriorated in 2020.

Tony was diagnosed in 2009 with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that causes cells in the retina to degenerate slowly and progressively.

Last year, he lost a further 50 per cent of his remaining vision, causing him to lose his job and worry about his independence.

“Because of the condition, I was starting to fear waking up in the morning with no sight at all,” Tony said.

Having previously learned to use a white cane, Tony decided to take the next step and become a Seeing Eye Dog handler. After being matched with Drummer in July, Tony said the experience has been life-changing. 

“I used to bump into things, or get bashed by things or people. Drummer commands attention. People give us a bit more space and seem to think a bit more about getting out of the way,” he said.

“People are just a bit more considerate of our space. I got sick of explaining myself if I bumped into someone, even when I was out using my white cane.”

Drummer, a golden retriever sits outside in his harness
Caption: Tony and Drummer have been working together since July. 

Along with helping Tony to be more confident and independent, Drummer’s also become a welcome companion.

“He does spend a bit of time sleeping, but he’s great company as well.

“I’m amazed that he doesn’t bark. I think he’s barked once the whole time I’ve had him.”

While Tony’s certainly enjoying having Drummer by his side, his new companion might ruin the surprise Tony has for competitors in his local lawn bowls competition.

“I took up lawn bowls a bit over eight months ago, but I’ve already represented Queensland in blind bowls and won a gold medal.

“I’ve beaten sighted people in the club completion and got to the semi-finals. It shocked people, they couldn’t figure it out as I’m legally blind. I certainly had a good chuckle to myself about that.”