Meet Jefferson & ‘Ice’
Guide Dogs transform lives. They help dreams come true.
Across Queensland, thousands of people who are blind or vision impaired are leading more independent, fulfilling lives. The kind of lives you and I take for granted. Much of this was made possible by the intelligence and love of Guide Dogs.
Here’s just one shining example. Meet 30-year-old Jefferson Mac from Fairfield, Brisbane and his Guide Dog ‘Ice’. Jefferson is currently enjoying life at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, where he is studying psychology.
Jefferson was born with congenital glaucoma – a condition which made his eyesight deteriorate over the years. He said: “Imagine driving through thick fog where visibility is down to only a few metres. That’s what it is like to look through my eyes.”
Since the age of 21, Jefferson has benefited from the life-changing services Guide Dogs Queensland provide. We offer all our services free of charge to thousands of Queenslanders. As you can imagine, this is extremely expensive. It costs $30,000 to train and place every Guide Dog. The donations of our supporters allow us to provide world-class Guide Dogs that will help people like Jefferson fulfill their true potential.
After a few years using canes supplied by Guide Dogs Queensland, Jefferson decided he needed a Guide Dog. His vision was now almost completely gone. Enter ‘Ice’ – a black Labrador who is Jefferson’s trusted Guide Dog companion. ‘Ice’ quickly became invaluable for helping Jefferson move safely around the crowded campus and get the most out of university life.
“It’s very busy and not the easiest place to navigate,” said Jefferson. “Once ‘Ice’ has been taught the route he will just go there every time. It’s a lot less stressful to get around the campus with him helping me.
“The emotional companionship ‘Ice’ provides is priceless. It’s very hard to have a bad day when you are greeted with the unconditional love of the most adorable dog in the world every morning.
“He’s a great stress reliever too,” added Jefferson.
“When I’m getting stressed out with exam study, I will just call ‘Ice’ over and play with him for a few minutes. All my stresses magically disappear, allowing me to attack my studying with renewed vigour.
“He’s also great for meeting new people. I found it hard to connect with people, because you normally start conversations through eye contact. But when you can barely see past your own nose, making eye contact with others is somewhat challenging. After a few months of living and working with ‘Ice’, I noticed more and more people were initiating contact with me through him.”
Having a Guide Dog has given Jefferson the freedom and reduced stress he needs to concentrate on his studies and pursue his dreams.
“Once I’ve finished this degree I want to move on to a two-year Masters degree,” said Jefferson.
“Then I hope to work as a rehabilitation psychologist, helping people with vision impairment and degenerative diseases.”
He is aiming high in other ways too. Jefferson joined other people who are vision impaired to climb Brisbane’s Story Bridge – no mean feat at 74 metres high – and he’s already planning to climb an even taller structure.
“It was nice to be up there with fellow people who are vision impaired, showing we can do it too,” said a fearless Jefferson.
“Now I have my sights set on something bigger – perhaps the Q1 tower on the Gold Coast.”
Jefferson has a real lust for life and using a Guide Dog greatly boosts such confidence. We’re determined to give the same life-changing opportunity to the growing number of blind and vision impaired Queenslanders.
An ageing population means vision-related problems are increasing rapidly in both Queensland and Australia as a whole. Experts predict blindness will double in Australia by 2020.
We’re struggling to keep up with demand for our Guide Dogs. Your continued support is vital. We’re helping Jefferson but there are still so many more people in need of a Guide Dog…