VICTOR, N.Y. (WROC) — Remember the cute puppy, Chait? He’s a guide dog in training, still working on his craft with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, but now we tell the tale of another black lab, Mac, who helped one man get his independence back.
Ohio resident and volunteer musician Terry McCann is legally blind. He wrote the unofficial theme song for Guiding Eyes. He was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 22. It’s a genetic condition that causes slow-progressing loss of tissue in the back of the eye causing blindness.
“What triggered it was running my ’74 Dodge Charger into the rear end of a ’68 Chevelle and knocking it off its air shocks,” McCann said. “And wondering: ‘I didn’t see that car.'”
He and his brother were diagnosed with the condition, since they both had similar car accidents. McCann quipped that someone with RP can adapt until they can’t anymore. He kept slowing losing vision, and more that was near and dear to him:
“I hated losing my driver’s license,” McCann said, laughing.
He equates losing vision to independence — and he had to rely on family and friends. He even tried the white cane, but had difficulty.
“It did get to the point where I basically got tired of living in a cage,” McCann said.
Fast forward to 2016.
“My orientation and mobility trainer said ‘you might want to try a guide dog,'” McCann said. “My first response was to him was ‘well I could never afford that.’ And his reply was ‘they’re free.'”
Later that year, McCann was matched with his dog Mac through Guiding Eyes. They began bonding immediately.
“We’re twins, is what I tell people,” McCann said. “We’re both a little laid back, he’s just as happy doing what he’s doing now as he is when I get the harness off the wall and he loves to work as well.”
Through the extensive training that Guiding Eyes provides and work between them, McCann has his independence back, and can enjoy his retirement now. He volunteers for Guiding Eyes and as a musician in Ohio, but he gets joy and a sense of independence from spending time in his local mall.
Through his frequent volunteer visits here — and across the Eastern Seaboard for Guiding Eyes — McCann and Mac almost have this Eastview down.
Now, wherever they go, whether it’s throughout the mall, to their favorite spot to rest, or even crossing the street:
“Keeping me safe me from cars that want to share a cross walk with us,” McCann said. “Mac’s reaction to those situations have kept us both from getting hit.”
Mac will always have McCann’s back, so he will always have his independence.
“We’re a team,” McCann said. “He trusts me to trust him.”