Jason was born with an eye condition so rare, that most of his life he had no diagnosis and no name for the condition that limited his sight.
“I remember mum being told by specialists that it had to be psychological. It couldn’t be physical because there was nothing in a textbook,” he recalled.
“As a young person, I didn’t know what to do without a diagnosis. I thought nobody could help me.”
Jason went on with living the best life he could, dealing daily with his limited sight.
And he made a real go of it, building a career running his own businesses across Australia and overseas. In his spare time, he enjoyed being social, exploring new areas and bush walking.
“I was adaptive at most things. I could overcome pretty much anything.
“But as computers became more and more widespread that was a real problem for me because everything was backlit. The main part of my undiagnosed condition was extreme sensitivity to light, so suddenly I couldn’t see a lot of what I needed to, to keep working.
"I always thought I’d be fine. Then all of a sudden, my eyesight declined very quickly and I found myself struggling in all areas of my life."
Many Queenslanders like Jason find themselves in a similar situation. Losing your sight can be devastating without the right support. For Jason, this meant that at one point, he even had to stop working while he searched for new ways to deal with his rapidly declining vision.
“I was at a very low point and in desperate need of help. I’d pretty much lost everything and felt like there wasn’t a great deal left for me to do.”
It was at this time that Jason reached out for support, to get his life back on track.
“I remember right from the very first phone call I made to Guide Dogs, I had a true sense of somebody wanting to help me,” he said.
Jason was soon able to access a wide range of services through Guide Dogs, including psychology to support his mental health, occupational therapy to help with everyday tasks and ways to tackle emerging technologies.
These support services are made possible thanks to supporters like you.
“Those first services gave me the tools I needed,” Jason explained.
“It gave me a real sense of reason to go on, knowing everything will be alright. It really helped me begin to build a life again.”
It was while our team of specialists was working closely with Jason to assess the impacts of his limited vision on his day-to-day life that they suggested he think about getting a Guide Dog. They knew a companion by Jason’s side was what he really needed to help him regain the freedom and independence he longed for.
Jason agreed – and Guide Dog Mobility Specialist Kerree took the lead to find his perfect match.
“We face this difficult challenge of match-making all the time,” Kerree said.
“It has to be right, so not only the Handler is happy, but so the newly trained Guide Dog also finds a new companion to enjoy both work and cuddles with.
“Every person and dog we meet has their own personality. It’s all about getting the right match to form a bond that will last a lifetime.”
Kerree said that with regular travel for work and Jason’s fast-paced lifestyle, she knew he needed a dog that would be able to adapt to anything.
“The perfect dog for Jason would be one that can stay focused, no matter where they were or what was happening,” she said.
“That way, Jason could do all the things he wanted to in life.”
“No two days look the same for me. I needed a dog that was very adaptable and keen to explore new areas,” he said.
I knew this could make it hard to find the right dog for me.”
Just like people, every dog is unique, with different energy levels, skills and strengths. These traits all play a role as to whether a Guide Dog will be compatible with someone.
For Jason, a few months went by before a potential match was found.
“When I got the call to come in and meet the dog, at first I thought, ‘This could be it!’. I was still nervous and wasn’t sure how it would go.
“But as soon as I met Tyson and we set off on a walk together, everything just fell into place.
“He got me. I got him. We were a team.”
I’m delighted that the match for Jason was a good one. It just worked. But like it is for many new partnerships, the final test was still ahead – introducing the new partner to the family!
Jason plucked up the courage and brought Tyson home to meet the family.
“It was amazing! Without even trying, Tyson had a way of connecting with each person in the household in a different way,” Jason said proudly.
“He adapted his approach and interaction with them depending on who it was. The level of intelligence he had was so impressive.
“It was then that I knew it really was a perfect fit and the rest is history.”
Expert Guide Dog Mobility Specialists continue to support Jason and Tyson so they can continue to explore, navigate new daily routes, and overcome any new challenges that come their way.
“I know that when I do need help with something, that help is always there,” Jason explained. The dedication and work that goes into training blows my mind. And even after being matched, there is still so much support.”
For Jason and Tyson, the next adventure will see them travelling to America soon to meet with experts who specialise in Jason’s rare vision condition.
“Without Tyson, going to America wouldn’t be something I would venture to do on my own, at this stage in life and with this level of sight,” he said.
“But with Tyson by my side, I really do believe I have the confidence to do it independently.”
“The support I’ve received has made a massive, massive difference in my life,” Jason shared.