A GUIDE dog who changed his owner’s life helps her travel 100 miles each day to work for the charity.
Nicola Harvey and guide dog Dollar leave their home in Leicester at 6am each morning to reach the Leamington centre.
Together they take three trains, a bus and then finally a walk to reach their destination.
The 50-year-old – who started to lose her sight around 20 years ago – said she felt her ‘existence was going nowhere’ until she was given her first guide dog.
The mum-of-three told the Observer: “Before my guide dogs my life was feeling isolated as if my life had come to an abrupt stop.
“That first walk with a guide dog was the most exhilarating feeling of freedom, independence. I felt I was back on the wheel of life again, moving and traveling around the country on my own two feet, buses, trains and having the ability to do it myself with my trusted friend, my beautiful guide dog, by my side.”
Before Nicola lost her sight due to Marfan’s Syndrome she worked as a nursery nurse. After suffering crippling eye pain and a number of operations she had to give up the job.
But life started to improve as soon as she was matched with first guide dog Wyatt.
With him she worked as a representative for charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People, regularly travelling to London to meet the disability minister and campaigning for rehabilitation and training for the blind.
She finally found her perfect position at the Guide Dogs training centre as a dog carer and support worker. While she was nervous of the journey in the beginning she now enjoys the trip to work, taking a taxi home only because the route back is unsuitable.
While she works, Dollar sleeps in his basket and enjoys the attention from staff and visitors.
Nicola said: “After 17 years I have gone from thinking my life was not worth living to having my freedom back thanks to my dogs and the help of Guide Dog’s commitment to me.
“My guide dogs amaze me every day and I could not have achieved all that I have without them giving me the empowerment of freedom and movement to go anywhere I please, just like everyone else does.
“The power of freedom and independence is endless for me now and it feels great.”
Colleagues recently took on a cycle challenge, using an exercise bike to match the 100 mile journey which Nicola makes each day.
They have raised an impressive £500 so far.
Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dollarsamazingjourney to donate.