Guide dog has revolutionised life for Buncrana woman
Jennifer Doherty, who has been blind almost from birth, is the proud and happy owner of Buncrana’s one and only guide dog, O.J.
The 27-year-old’s quality of life improved immeasurably just over six years ago when she first took hold of the friendly black Labrador after a two-year wait.
Since he first arrived from Cork in the summer of 2007, O.J. has allowed Jennifer to gain more and more independence; and for the past two years she has been able to live in her own home.
An Inishowen Independent visit to her house last Thursday, World Sight Day, found Jennifer in typically happy mood, delighted to be living in her own place along Buncrana’s Red Row, appropriately in a house with a bright red door.
Her kitchen too is brightly coloured, purple cabinets and an American style off-white fridge dominating a modern open-plan living space that wouldn’t be out of place in an Ikea catalogue. Her mother Josephine gets the credit for the tasteful design.
There is a flat television mounted on the wall. Despite the blindness, Jennifer sometimes watches documentaries and a few of her favourite DVDs with friends.
Providing company, guide dog O.J. and another pet, Dougal, a young Bichon Frise, are playfully circling the room. O.J., in particular, has been a revelation for Jennifer. With the harness off, he is ‘just another pet’ but when the harness goes on he is a vital part of her life.
“I don’t think I could have moved into my own home if I didn’t have O.J., I wouldn’t feel safe without him. He has made a massive difference, I’m so much more independent now. I can go where I want, whenever I want and I don’t have to rely on family members or friends,” she explained.
“If I’m going anywhere I can just walk, I don’t have to depend on other people to come and get me. I didn’t have much confidence at all when I was using the cane compared to how I am now with the dog,” Jennifer added.
To read more of Jennifer’s story click here.