Friday, March 6, 2015

Meet GDB Graduate Carrie Moffatt

Carrie Moffatt lives with her guide dog Casey in North Vancouver, British Columbia. At the age of 16, Carrie began losing her vision and was eventually diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, a dual sensory impairment that affects her hearing and sight. She didn't let this stop her and went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies, as well as a communications diploma. She later completed her law degree at the University of Victoria, where she ranked near the top of her class and won several awards, including a research fellowship. 

Carrie also graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) with her first guide dog Casey in the summer of 2012. "My experience at the Oregon campus was fun, intense, and so rewarding,” said Carrie. "The instructors were professional, respectful, thorough, empowering, and all around awesome people. I left feeling fully prepared and confident that Casey and I could face whatever obstacles are thrown at us on a daily basis. The small class size, the student-instructor ratio, the meals, well organized schedule and supportive atmosphere allowed me to focus on learning and developing my relationship with Casey. GDB makes it possible for people who are visually impaired and blind to be fully engaged citizens and participate in the workforce and society. Empowering people with vision loss by pairing them with a highly trained guide dog benefits everyone."

Carrie kneels down in her formal black Barrister’s gown with a white long tie smiling next to her guide dog Casey (black Lab in harness also wearing a white long tie).

Now a lawyer at Lidstone & Company in Vancouver, BC, Carrie advises local governments in the areas of municipal, environmental, constitutional, administrative and land use law. She conducts legal research and analysis, drafts legal opinions, memoranda, and written advocacy. Carrie is also an avid supporter of Cycle for Sight, which is a fundraising event in support of the Foundation Fighting Blindness (Canada’s largest charitable organization raising funds for vision research). In 2012, she was chosen by the GDB Alumni Association Board of Directors as the recipient of the annual Reach for the Stars Scholarship. “Losing your vision is a really difficult process to go through and having a guide dog has turned my blindness into a positive experience,” said Carrie. “I feel like I can walk with my head held high with Casey by my side. Most people do not realize I am visually impaired because through our teamwork, Casey gets us to our destination with grace and speed. She also provides comic relief by groaning loudly in meetings or sprawling out on her back when she’s off duty, demanding belly rubs from co-workers."

Carrie has traveled around the world to several countries and looks forward to more adventures with Casey. "I reflect a lot on how incredible it is to have this inter-species relationship, and I am constantly in awe of our symbiosis and teamwork,” said Carrie. “It is very humbling to have wholehearted trust in a dog. I am dependent on her as a second set of eyes and ears to help me navigate and weave through crowds and traffic. She is dependent on me for food, play, warmth, and shelter. We depend equally on each other for unconditional love and companionship. What I have learned from having a guide dog is that I can be both independently strong and interdependent at the same time." 



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