Bacchus Marsh has a new team in town Denise and Seeing Eye Dog Maya

28 January 2022

Getting to the footy to support the Saints is an important part of Denise’s life. The trip into Melbourne taking trains, escalators and navigating crowds of other supporters might be could be daunting if you are blind, but it’s made much easier with the help of a Seeing Eye Dog.

Denise Eade, 69, of Maddingley has been working side-by-side with yellow Labrador Bella for over seven years.

Denise was living in Ballarat and driving to work in aged care in Daylesford before she was declared legally blind.

All of the things that were once second nature for Denise were put in the “too-hard basket.”

When she lost most of her vision due to a bleed in the eye at age 55, Denise could no longer drive or work. “That was hard because I always worked. I was a bit lost and probably angry, I just got home and burst into tears.”

When restrictions ease and the AFL season returns Denise will enjoy supporting St Kilda Football Club again, back at the MCG.

The Saints will have a new canine fan amongst their supporters.

When Denise was matched with her first Seeing Eye Dog Bella she was able to start doing the things that she enjoyed again, and regained a sense of freedom. “I couldn’t believe the life she gave back to me.”

They frequented AFL matches, went interstate and travelled on trains, boats and planes. Travelling into Melbourne to support their beloved St Kilda Football Club is an important part of Denise’s life.

With Seeing Eye Dogs, Denise can independently and confidently travel into Melbourne for the footy or Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat for shopping and amenities.

“When it was time for Bella to retire the instructors said ‘she’s been doing her best for you, but it’s time’. I was worried about the transition and scared about leaving Bella at home.”

Now, black lab cross golden retriever Maya has come into Denise’s life.

“The matching process was amazing, I couldn’t believe it. Instructor Jenny nailed it! Just perfect! I’ve been absolutely blessed with two perfect matches.”

“When I put the harness on for the first walk with Maya it was just so easy. It looked comfortable, it was so natural. Didn’t feel like the first time, felt like we’d been together for months. I was totally blown away” She says. Maya and Bella are best of friends now. They both run around the backyard together, it’s good for Bella. It’ll keep Bella young for a while. “Bella blew me away, I know Maya will get there too. You can just feel it, she’s just such a sweetie.”

“With my Seeing Eye Dogs I feel safe, I feel so comfortable to go out and anywhere.”

Denise stands next to her Seeing Eye Dog in harness

About Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs

Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dog is the only national provider, trainer, and breeder of Seeing Eye Dogs in Australia.

We offer a wide range of services, equipment and training so people who are blind or have low vision can live the life they choose.