Sara’s new “left eye”

A young woman is kneeling on the ground, with her black Guide Dog sitting next to her. They are looking into each other’s eyes and gently touching noses. caption reads: Sara and Papper.

Sara with her Guide Dog, Pepper.

For a long time, Sara Waitzer was determined not to share that she was vision impaired with those around her. She felt that if people knew, she would be labelled and disadvantaged.

When she was just five years old, Sara had surgery to remove part of a tumour in her optic nerve. Over the next three years she received treatment to prevent the tumour spreading. As a result, Sara was left with tunnel vision in her right eye, and only light perception in her left.

In her later teens, Sara realised she didn’t want to hide her vision impairment any longer. It was part of her, and she was ready to make life easier for herself. It was during year 12 that Sara was matched with her first Guide Dog, Erin, and a world of opportunity suddenly opened up to her. But when Erin retired in 2015, Sara wondered what her future would look like without her Guide Dog.

Along came Pepper

This question was answered in July 2016, in the form of a beautiful black Labrador named Pepper. Any doubt Sara had about her future quickly vanished. Pepper has been a constant support for Sara in the most recent stage of her life; commencing work in Hobart as a child psychologist.

With the demands of the job having the potential to be exhausting for someone with low vision – including frequent travel between two locations in the state – Sara can enjoy each day knowing she’s got a constant companion by her side.

“Pepper makes things so much easier and takes the pressure off me to always get things right”- Sara.

Pepper is so in tune with her handler that she constantly amazes Sara with her ability to pick up on where she wants to go, or even how she’s feeling on a particular day.

A young woman is walking along a footpath with her black Guide Dog, away from the camera. It is a sunny day

Sara and Pepper, a perfect match.

“Without even giving her a command, she’ll know where I want to go, whether it’s a different office, a coffee shop or the supermarket. It’s quite impressive” – Sara.

Sara says that Pepper can even pick up on her stress levels, and will alter her behaviour accordingly. She knows when to step back and give her handler some space to complete her own work, but knows equally when it’s her time to step up and give Sara the support she needs.

Pepper’s excitedness and interest in the world around her makes her an exceptional Guide Dog in challenging environments. And for a young woman like Sara, who doesn’t always know what’s behind the next corner, Pepper is the perfect Guide Dog for her.

“I love Pepper to bits, and I love that I have a constant companion in her. Having Pepper in my life makes things more possible.”

Your ongoing support to Guide Dogs Tasmania will ensure more Tasmanians, like Sara, receive a life changing gift like Pepper.

 Click here to make a donation to Guide Dogs Tasmania today. Or, call 1800 484 333 to donate over the phone.

 

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