Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia.
Sunday, April 23, 2006.
A BLIND World War II Digger has won the right to claim the living costs of his guide dog, Ollie.
Mike McGuire, 81, fought the Veterans' Affairs Department to have guide dogs classed with federally funded veterans' aids such as wheelchairs, walking sticks and hearing aids.
"If a working guide dog doesn't fit the criterion of being an aid for a blind veteran, then I don't know what an aid is," the president of the Blinded Soldiers' Association said.
The department refused his initial request five years ago, so the great-grandfather enlisted the might of the RSL national conference and the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Association.
"I feel it my duty and responsibility to get whatever possible to improve the lot of blind vets," he said.
"They have finally agreed to my request and the costs to me of keeping Ollie will be backdated."
Ollie costs about $900 a year in food and veterinary bills, but is priceless to Mr McGuire: "It is Ollie who has allowed me to keep my independence and remain in my own home since the death of my wife."
Mr McGuire, a 1980 paralympic bronze medallist, is one of the nation's top totally blind bowlers.
He was in the trenches in New Guinea when he began going blind.
"My night vision went first and it was very frightening," he said.
He relied on his mates to help him survive, but now relies on the eight-year-old black labrador-retriever cross to get him through each day.
For 25 years, Mr McGuire relied on a white cane because his wife, Mona, would not let a dog in the house.
It wasn't until he lost her that Mr McGuire entertained the idea of a guide dog. "I can't believe the difference he has made to my life."
He is urging Victorians to support Guide Dog Week, which starts today.
End of article.
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