'I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything': Visually impaired woman's guide dog forced to retire
Madina Azizi, CTV Regina
Published Sunday, July 8, 2018 5:36PM CST
Last Updated Sunday, July 8, 2018 6:56PM CST
A visually impaired Regina woman was forced to retire her service dog, Rick, after incident with a cyclist.
Ashley Nemeth had Rick as a service dog for more than five years and to her, he was a part of her family.
“He was amazing. He was my first guide dog and I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything,” said Nemeth.
But Nemeth had to have her dog retired after an incident that happened when she was walking with her dog to Starbucks.
"Somebody came on a bike behind us and tried to go in between my service dog, Rick, my guide dog and the wall but Rick is trained to follow as close left as he can and there wasn’t enough room because of that, so he ended up hitting the side of my service dog and running over his paw,” said Nemeth.
Nemeth says Rick was not the same after the incident. He showed signs of stress and anxiety and was unable to properly focus and guide Nemeth. It soon became a safety concern leading Nemeth to retire Rick and live without a service dog for the time being.
“It’s been really hard, it means that I now have to rely on my family and friends a lot more than I had to before. It kind of closed my world a little. It’s harder for me to travel,” said Nemeth.
Nemeth says she blames the cyclist for what happened to her dog and urges residents to know and understand the importance of service dogs for visually impaired individuals.
"Service dogs provide a lifeline for so many people and when you see them yes they are cute and cuddly but more than not petting them, you need to give them their space so that they are able to do the job that they are trying to do because you never know that one moment of you riding your bike too close or trying to pet that dog could put somebody's life in danger,” said Nemeth.
Nemeth says Rick is doing better in his retirement home and as for her, she will be applying for a new service dog but it could take up to nine months for the helper to arrive.