Shaylah’s been a life changer for Thayana

Shaylah’s been a life changer for Thayana

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Thayana with her seeing eye dog Shaylah.

After living with vision loss for more than a decade, East Cannington’s Thayana Mubila has recently made a life-changing partnership.

The 30-year-old was matched with Shaylah, her first seeing eye dog late last year, and is already benefiting from the increased independence the highly trained black Labrador provides her.

Thayana lost a significant portion of her vision between 2011 and 2012 due to separate retinal detachments. In 2015, she woke one morning to find that her vision had completely gone. Subsequent surgery meant Thayana has been able to regain around 10 percent of her vision. Thayana undertook that surgery and recovery in South Africa and her native Zambia respectively, before returning to Perth determined to re-build her independence.

“I knew I didn’t want to come back to the same way as I was living when I was here before. I was dependent on everyone; I was really unhappy. I knew I needed to make a change,” Thayana said. Thayana’s desire for independence led her to contacting Seeing Eye Dogs, and she was paired with Shaylah in November 2023 and the partnership has given Thayana the freedom to navigate her community.

“Just going places and not having to depend on people is exciting to me. Even taking a walk around the block,” Thayana said. “If I’m tired after hours of study and I just want to get up and go out, now I can do so with Shaylah! That freedom to not have to always rely on another person to do those things is exciting to me,” she said.

Thayana is studying at Curtin University, where Shaylah’s presence will reduce the stress that Thayana has been under when navigating the campus.

“Being at university has not been easy! Not being able to independently walk around campus as other students do, made me depend on the help of friends and classmates or request assistance from Curtin security officers,” she said.

“As a result, I realised I was missing out on the full university experience, even the leisure of grabbing a coffee from one coffee shop and then food from another shop that may be on the opposite end of the campus.”

While Thayana isn’t looking back after being matched with Shaylah, she was initially nervous about entering the Seeing Eye Dogs program, but the expertise of the Seeing Eye Dogs staff put her at ease.

“My instructor Matt has done a fantastic work getting me through training,” she said.

“Not only was he patient with both Shaylah and me, but he also provided a calm and relaxed environment to work in.

“I really appreciated this as I was quite nervous going into training because this was a new experience for me.”

Perth-based Seeing Eye Dogs instructor Matt Wood said Thayana and Shaylah have proven to be a great match and capable of exploring all of what Perth has to offer.

“Thayana has been fantastic to work with, she is open to change as well as challenges,” Matt said.

“Thayana and Shaylah have bonded quickly, and they are now working independently in local shopping centres and over the TransPerth transport system.”

For more information on seeing eye dogs go to https://sed.visionaustralia.org/apply-seeing-eye-dog