Guide dog Maxwell - Much more than a guide

Philip And Maxwell Sitting In A ParkFootball and golf enthusiast Philip Fearon from Ascot is profoundly deaf and blind, but thanks to his guide dog Maxwell his sensory loss doesn’t stop him from enjoying sports, travelling on trains to meet friends and living life independently, the way he wants to.

He explains: “I was born profoundly deaf and later when my sight began to deteriorate I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP): A result of Usher’s Syndrome. Very gradually this began to affect my peripheral vision. I bumped into people, children, trees and so on. In short it became very difficult crossing roads and my confidence and ability to get out and about disappeared.

“I lost all of the sight in my left eye when I was nineteen and, due to this, in 2002, I had to give up my clerical job – a very low point for me.”

In 2012 Philip’s sister took him to an open day at Guide Dogs’ training school in Leamington Spa. He continues: “It was great. It enabled me to realise the benefits of a guide dog and after much thought I applied.”

Philip was matched with Maxwell on 05 February 2014 and qualified following several weeks of intensive training that ensures both were comfortable working together and Philip had all the skills necessary to look after and work Maxwell effectively; usual practice for anyone being matched with a guide dog. “The difference Maxwell has made is difficult to put into words. It is now a pleasure to go for walks, cross roads, go to the bank and shops, go to visit friends by train and so on without worry. I even went to a wedding and had a holiday in the Lake District. Having Maxwell with me means I am able to cope with new places and difficult walks with more confidence. I’ve even been to watch a golf tournament with him and he was excellent.

Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, Nicola, trained Maxwell and Philip. She says:

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with Phil and Maxwell and see them grow together in confidence and independence.”

“People see me walking Maxwell and realise I have hearing and sight loss due to Maxwell’s red and white harness and are friendly and helpful. He boosts my confidence as I know he helps with unexpected obstacles. My life is much easier with him. I can go out on my own when and wherever I want - all thanks to Maxwell and the guide dog trainers (Thanks Nicola).

“Maxwell is very good with my family. He enjoys meeting my nieces and nephews. He has fun playing in the garden with me and running free several times a week on the racecourse or park. When I paint landscapes, read or watch TV he lies down beside me, keeping me company. We are really good friends and he always wants to be with me. He is very special, a very good guide dog and companion.”

To find out more about Guide Dogs services visit: www.guidedogs.org.uk/services or call: 0345 1430224.

 



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