'Guide dogs changed my life forever'

Jon Nixey is marking 25 years of guide dog ownership by praising Guide Dogs Cymru for making it possible. Pictured is Jon with his guide dog Max a 4 year old German Shepherd. (7924299)

Jon Nixey is marking 25 years of guide dog ownership by praising Guide Dogs Cymru for making it possible. Pictured is Jon walking with his guide dog Max, a 4 year old German Shepherd. (7924330)

Jon Nixey is marking 25 years of guide dog ownership by praising Guide Dogs Cymru for making it possible. Pictured is German Shepherd guide dog Max with Jon and Deborah Rees from Guide Dogs Cymru. (7924426)

First published in News

AN ABERTILLERY man who has been registered blind since he was 20 years old has praised a guide dog charity for “dramatically” changing his life.

Jon Nixey, 49, has been aided by four guide dogs over 25 years thanks to Guide Dogs Cymru, who first matched him with a golden retriever Labrador cross named Troy in 1989.

The pair underwent three weeks of intensive training before qualifying as a working partnership.

A quarter of a century later, Mr Nixey can be seen in Abertillery town centre most days with his fourth dog, Max, a German Shepherd.

Mr Nixey, who lost his sight to an inherited condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, praised the trainers and volunteers at Guide Dogs Cymru for providing him with the means to remain mobile and independent and said the dogs had meant a big change for him.

He said: “They have changed the quality of my life not just a little, but dramatically.

“Before that, I had used a long cane.

“But the difference was truly astonishing. No one wants to stop and make a fuss of a cane.”

The father-of-one, who is married to wife Su, said that all four of the guide dogs had been “superb” workers.

He added: “They’ve all had very different personalities.

“It’s like having four children, each one an individual but they have all been great company.”

Guide Dogs Cymru offer mobility services for adults and young people from Wales with guide dog training.

However, it costs Guide Dogs Cymru £50,000 for the lifetime of each working guide dog and the service receives no government funding.

For more information about the charity visit guidedogs.org.uk

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