As a teacher’s aide, Karen Frugtniet has a lot of opportunities to inform and educate her students about blindness and low vision, and about accessibility and inclusion.
Her Seeing Eye Dog, Queenie, has been a great help in this endeavour.
The classroom isn’t the only place Karen has the opportunity to educate others though.
“I like to say I’m a walking lesson.”
Karen, from Glenmore Park, lives with retinitis pigmentosa and was paired with Queenie earlier this year.
Their outings together have included trips to their local shopping centre, where Queenie has encouraged conversation about Seeing Eye Dogs and why their work is so important.
“I often hear parents start a conversation about her,” Karen said, “They say she’s working, and that I can’t see very well. She’s a great conversation starter.”
Queenie is Karen’s second Seeing Eye Dog. Her first, Josie retired early, and is currently enjoying her new career as the Frugtniet family pet.
“She was ready for that,” Karen explained, “She had lost a lot of motivation.”
Caption: Karen and Queenie were recognised at a Seeing Eye Dog graduation event at NSW Parliament House earlier this year.
In contrast, Queenie is energetic and enthusiastic about working, and that enthusiasm is contagious.
“She’s a joy to work with.”
Karen credits the Seeing Eye Dogs staff and volunteers for her seamless transition from working with Josie to working with Queenie.
“They do a wonderful job,” Karen said, “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Could a Seeing Eye Dog support you? Find out more about the Seeing Eye Dogs program and how to apply.