By Katie Gordon, CNIB Foundation
Everyone is adapting to a world where everyday activities are vastly different than they were just two months ago. While adjusting to this new way of life, Ottawa’s Dr. Erin Maloney says her days are brighter because of her guide dog, Winston.
“No matter how much I worry about what’s going on in the world, every single morning I’m greeted by Winston and his tail is wagging,” says Erin. “I start each day with joy, and it helps set you up for the rest of your day when you’re getting out of bed happy.”
Erin is a professor at the University of Ottawa and says a lot of her students are missing Winston’s cheery personality.
“I get so many emails from students checking in to see how he’s doing,” says Erin. “Now and then I send videos of him to my students and colleagues. I haven’t encountered anyone that hasn’t fallen in love with this dog – there’s something magnetic about him.”
Erin and Winston were matched in November 2019 when they graduated from CNIB Guide Dogs. Erin says Winston has quickly become a member of her family and his presence is appreciated even more during the pandemic.
He has been a saviour right now – not only for myself but also for my children,” says Erin. “They’re used to the high-energy environment in school, and he’s very much helped us relieve boredom.”
Erin is also thankful to have Winston around, so she has fewer limitations.
“Being cooped up in the house with the kids, I often find that I need to just get out and go for a walk,” says Erin. “With the eye disease that I have, I was okay going out during the day, but not at all at night. With Winston, everything has changed – I don’t have to worry about it. I can go out whenever I’d like.”
Erin says having Winston has become second nature.
“It’s almost hard to remember a time before he was here,” says Erin. “He’s become such a part of everything that I do, that I almost take for granted the opportunities that having him has provided me.”