Ricky has been living with vision loss for the past 15 years. For a long time he felt isolated, finding it daunting to simply leave the house.
“It used to be so difficult to navigate the outside world and I became trapped inside my own home,” Ricky said.
“But ever since I got Boof-head, I get out every day to the shops, the beach and even our favourite local Chinese restaurant.”
‘Boof-head’ as he affectionately calls him, is Ricky’s Guide Dog ‘Stark’ who has been by his side for the past year.
“We instantly bonded on our first walk along the beach. He stopped and put his head on my leg as if to say ‘I’m staying with you’.”
With Stark by his side, Ricky is able to catch public transport and navigate through shopping centres easily. Beforehand, walking through busy shopping centres was extremely stressful, but now Stark weaves him through crowds with ease. People are also so much more accommodating when they see Ricky and Stark working together.
For Ricky, Stark is more than just his Guide Dog. He is a friend and an invaluable companion.
“He’s my shadow. Everywhere I go, he goes and he always likes to be touching me with his warm fuzzy paw or his head, to reassure me that he’s there.”
For Ricky’s daughter, Tailah, seeing the change in her dad has been incredible.
“Stark has given Dad so much confidence in himself. He used to think that things were too hard and there was too much to think about, but now he believes in himself,” Tailah said.
“Whenever my Dad left the house, I used to feel so scared and anxious about what could go wrong. Then he was matched with Stark. Now I know everything will be okay, with his friend by his side.”
Stark has become a life-changing companion for Ricky and has cemented himself as a firm member the family.
Stark is dedicated to Ricky and affectionate with everyone – pet bird and strange cats included.
This is Ricky’s warm fuzzy story – what is yours?