Redcliffe resident Brian Bush has slowly been losing his vision since he was six years old. Now aged 81, Brian jokes that it is a “long and slow process” – “you can’t rush these things”.
The positive attitude and ability to laugh through tough times has served Brian well. Doctors are still unable to identify what has caused Brian to lose his vision, but Brian is all about controlling what he can and not worrying too much about the things outside of his control.
Losing your sight is difficult to comprehend, but losing the ability to do the ‘normal’ things you once could is the most difficult part.
“Having a Guide Dog really gave me my freedom and mobility back,” he explained. “The best thing in the world is wanting to go for a walk, or go to the shops on your own and having that freedom to do that. That’s what a Guide Dog gives you.”
It wasn’t until Brian moved from New Zealand to Australia in 1995 that he realised just how bad his vision was.
“Before I moved here to Queensland, I lived in Auckland. I knew my way around so well that I guess I wasn’t really relying on my sight,” he recalled. “When I moved here, I realised just how bad my vision was, and got help for the first time.”
Brian sought help from Guide Dogs Queensland at Bald Hills in early 1995. By October that year, Brian was matched with his first Guide Dog, Nickel. When Nickel retired, his second Guide Dog Cody became his companion.
Now, life with Lambert is just as wonderful.
“I will never take those normal things for granted ever again,” Brian said. “When I want to go for a walk, I say ‘OK, Lambert. Let’s go for a walk’ and his tail is up in the air and he’s ready to go.”
“Most people probably don’t realise how much is involved with finding your perfect match. Not just having the perfect Guide Dog for me, but also that I’m the right fit for the dog. Every one of my Guide Dogs has been perfect.
“I’m not as mobile as I once was, and I think Lambert is perfect for me.
“Our favourite thing to do is walk along the Redcliffe waterfront, and every so often Lambert veers off. I’m wondering what he’s doing, but I trust him completely so I follow. I reach out my hand to see where he has stopped, and it’s a seat. Lambert is telling me to sit down and have a rest, but also to take a minute and look out over the water, appreciate where I live, and realise how lucky I am.”
Brian wanted to thank the community for supporting Guide Dogs Queensland.
“In all my time of having a Guide Dog, I can honestly say I have never had any problems with people being over-enthusiastic. People definitely know that you can’t pat or distract a Guide Dog when it’s working because my safety is put at risk if the dog is distracted.”
“But, there is occasionally a small child who will ask me when I’m sitting down at the beach, or taking a break at the shops, if they can pat my dog. I let them give Lambert a tiny pat but I take the chance to talk to them and their parents about how special Guide Dogs are. They know how special they are to get to pat a Guide Dog, because not everyone gets to do that. And, Lambert loves kids, so it’s an extra treat for him.”
Brian said he always thanked anyone who stopped to ask about Guide Dogs, because there was a very high chance those same people had made a donation at some point which made it possible for him to have the freedom, independence, and confidence that a Guide Dog brings.
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