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Devoted guide dogs Ami and Heidi change Lisa’s life

Devoted guide dogs Ami and Heidi change Lisa’s life

The upcoming Red Puppy Appeal is crucially important to people like Lisa Reid who lost her sight after being diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 11 years old.

She spent her teenage years struggling with her blindness. “I was craving to be a ‘normal’ teenager and it was hard to cope with having no sight at all. I wasn’t free to go where I wanted to, I had to rely on others and I didn’t feel part of the world around me.”

That all changed when she turned 21 and received her first guide dog, Ami. Lisa’s newfound independence allowed her to get out into the world. She studied, met new friends and had a daughter, Maddison Ami, now 12 (middle name in honour of her mother’s guide dog).

Incredibly, Lisa woke up one morning in her 20s and could see a little out of one eye – a remarkable story that saw her interviewed on Good Morning America. However, despite regaining some sight, she still needed Ami by her side.

Sadly, Ami passed away in 2011 after 10 fantastic years as a guide dog, and Lisa is now partnered with another beautiful guide dog, Heidi (pictured above).
The Devonport, Auckland, mother is one of the lucky ones. The Blind Foundation’s annual Red Puppy Appeal helped change her life but many people in the blind community are still waiting for a guide dog, which is why this year’s Appeal on March 28 and 29 is so important.

“Ami gave me back my life,” says Lisa. “She helped me regain my confidence, and allowed me to feel like myself again. With Ami by my side, I could travel on public transport, meet friends and go to work.”

“We don’t charge our clients to receive a guide dog,” says Blind Foundation Executive Director of Supporter Marketing and Fundraising, Alison Wheatley.
“All the costs for breeding and training guide dogs are met by public donations. The continued generous support of the New Zealand public enables our puppies to succeed in their vital work.”

At the moment there is a 12 month waiting list for a guide dog. Each guide dog puppy goes through two years of rigorous training before they graduate and, once assigned, their working life averages eight to 10 years.

Red Puppy Appeal:
• Red Puppy Appeal is on Friday 28 March and Saturday 29 March 2014. To volunteer as a street appeal collector or make a donation, visit or phone 0800 RED PUPPY (0800 733 787)
• The Blind Foundation receives no government funding for Guide Dogs.

About the Blind Foundation:
• The Blind Foundation is New Zealand’s main provider of sight loss services to people who are blind or have low vision.
• Every day an average of three New Zealanders register with the Blind Foundation for support with sight loss.
• The Blind Foundation equips its clients with the adaptive skills, technology and resources they need to overcome the barriers they face to participating fully in society and leading independent lives.
• Most of the people the Blind Foundation supports are not totally blind. There are many eye conditions that cause varying degrees of sight loss and these can affect people of all ages.


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