THE role of a seeing eye dog extends far further than that of a guide, says visually impaired Liverpool resident Shatha Matrood.
Miss Matrood said that without out her dog Jemma, her quality of life in general would be affected.
"I could not go back to life without her," she said. "If there was no Jemma, or no dog, there is no life for me.
"Before Jemma I could not go out by myself. I also had to do cane training for one year. But when I was in a motorcycle accident I lost a lot of confidence.
"When I got Jemma I was able to live by myself. She enabled me to go to TAFE and I can travel all around the city on my own."
Owning a seeing eye dog has allowed Miss Matrood to move at a pace and navigate obstacles with greater assurance and safety.
She said Jemma used her initiative to stop at the roadside and move Miss Matrood out of danger.
"The dog is a very good friend and companion for you," she said.
"She makes you safe and [your] home safe too. People have tried to break into the flat and Jemma has saved me. Even if there are other animals — even a spider — Jemma will make sure I am OK."
It costs $35,000 to train one seeing eye dog. This includes the breeding and care from when it is a pup, development training, intensive specialist training, training of the clients with the dog and the ongoing costs during the life of the dog when it is with its owner.
"Jemma has made a big difference in my life," Miss Matrood said. "I really appreciate what seeing eye dogs have done for me."
Seeing Eye Dogs Australia is a division within Vision Australia. It relies on donations to fund its training programs.
To donate, go to: seda.visionaustralia.org.