MICHAEL FIELD - Sunday Star Times - 23/10/2011
Poet laureate and University of Auckland academic, Leggott's degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, is rapidly taking her sight.(Photo right by Gil Hanly).
She thought for a while she could cope with a white stick.
"For years, I used to say you cannot fold up a dog."
But then there was a "click over moment" going up Shortland Street toward university.
"I was thinking, oh god, it would be so much easier if I could take my husband, and I felt then I needed a dog, another sentient being," she says in her Devonport home.
"I was losing independence because I was using my white stick."
It took nearly a year from applying to the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind for a guide dog before she was teamed up with Olive, a golden retriever.
Her arrival coincided with the Pike River mine disaster: "The day of the explosion they postpone her arrival."
Olive transformed life.
The training was a lot like Plunket gives new mothers.
"You start from absolute scratch and they do it day by day."
A trainer with a lead on the dog shared it, until, one day, he quietly slipped his lead off. It was like a dad letting go the bike carrier when teaching a child to ride.
"They hand over fully trained Rolls Royce dogs to some one who cannot drive them," she says,
Full story at stuff.co.nz