How Poppi Changed Liz’s Life

By Bev Jordan
Poppi the Guide Dog has won the PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS in the 2202 Australian Dog of the Year run by the website Puppy Tales.

Liz from North Parramatta said Poppi has transformed her life. She was just 18 when she was diagnosed with the rare disorder retinitis pigmentosa (a loss and breakdown of cells in the retina) meaning she was progressively losing her sight.

By the age of 26 Liz was legally blind as her vision narrowed and by the time she was 33 she was, as she describes it, “in big trouble”.

She had been working at a senior government level and was using visual aids but says the effort was so exhausting that she was sleeping when she got home and sleeping through the weekends.

She had to give up work and had lost her confidence.

“I had been in denial for some time and my father and husband had to intervene and say you are going blind and you need to contact Guide Dogs. Before I got Poppi I didn’t leave home for two years. She has transformed my life.”

Poppi And Liz Wheeler People S Choice 1 How Poppi Changed Liz’s Life

In May Liz will graduate from the Australian College of Applied Psychology. Up until COVID struck, Liz and Poppi were catching a bus and two trains to get to College.

“It was hard to be scared to leave my front door when Poppi was so excited to go,” she says. “I was able to catch trains, find class rooms, and feel safe to study. Poppi attended all the classes and co-counselled during placement. She’s a brilliant counsellor who has brought comfort to many.“

She completed her counselling degree at home with Poppi at her side.

“Poppi has made the ordinary for me not only possible, but extraordinary.”

Kerry Martin, international award-winning pet photographer and founder of Puppy Tales, said: “Reading the entries of noble dogs has been moving, funny and always endearing.”

Puppy Tales is a website aimed at helping pet owners make the most of life with their fur family.

You can read all the finalists’ full entries here
puppytales.com.au/australian-dog-of-yearfinalists-peoples-choice/.

Liz has donated her prize to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. It takes over two years and costs $50,000 to breed, raise and train each Guide Dog. Like all of the organisation’s services, Guide Dogs are provided at no cost to those who need them. For more information visit nsw.guidedogs.com.au

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