~ Eilish and Loie ~
At the end of 2015, Eilish Wilkes met her companion, Loie. Black labrador, Loie, is Eilish’s guide dog. Since having Loie in her life, Eilish has had much more independence and confidence in her daily life.
Since the age of 2, Eilish has had an inoperable brain tumour. 22 years later, Eilish is still undergoing treatments for this to prevent the tumour from growing. Unfortunately, the tumour has led to Eilish being legally blind and experiencing chronic pain. This presented Eilish with many issues, such as being unable to go out on her own and spending a lot of time in and out of hospitals. Her mobility had been greatly impacted. Due to having chronic pain and being blind, going out was a big challenge. Socialising, outings, and many other areas of her life were all affected.
However, in 2015, Eilish’s life changed. Near the end of the year, Eilish was paired with her guide dog, Loie. They have become an amazing team since then. Having Loie in her life has allowed Eilish to have more independence and confidence within her community. This was something that, for so long, Eilish would not have imagined having until she met Loie.
Initially, the two met through Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs. Loie is a gentle, quiet and sensitive girl. Eilish fell instantly in love upon meeting her.
Since Eilish has had Loie, her life has changed immensely. Having Loie meant Eilish could attend university, use public transport, be more social, and a lot more. Loie has given Eilish her independence and confidence to pursue her goals and live the life she wants to. Eilish has always been passionate about advocacy and often talks about her experiences with cancer. She has done a lot of voluntary work, public speaking, and more, all of which Loie has been by her side.
Not only does Loie help Eilish with her work, but also simply going outside. Having Loie means Eilish can now independently go for walks, something she didn’t think would be possible before Loie. Eilish can go anywhere she wishes to with Loie at her side. When out, Loie can help Eilish navigate around any objects that may be in her way, will stop at stairs, crossings, and curbs, and can let her know if something is obstructing their path.
Both Eilish and Loie have had many adventures together. In 2016, Eilish won the Youth Spirit Award at the Attitude Awards. When Eilish went to accept the award, she was able to do this independently with the help of Loie. In 2017, Loie and Eilish ran in the Auckland Marathon with her dad, Pat, for Guide Dogs NZ. These are only two specific moments where Eilish has been beyond grateful to have Loie by her side.
When Eilish is unwell, Loie is right there by her side. She brings Eilish immense comfort and supports her if she is feeling anxious. Simply having Loie there can make Eilish feel safer and calmer. When they are at home and Loie is off duty, Eilish loves watching Loie be a normal dog and having lots of cuddles! If Eilish is in hospital, Loie is allowed to stay and be there for her human. This helps Eilish feel not only comfort but also less alone during these difficult times.
Having Loie has changed Eilish’s life. Eilish says Loie is her life-long best friend and companion. Loie has given Eilish freedom in her life. She is able to be independent, have confidence and strength, and have a social life. With Loie, Eilish finds more people stop and talk to her, offering more acceptance within her community. Eilish has recently started her own business, ELWAC by Eilish Wilkes. This is something that Loie often helps and supports her with, also. In their downtime, they often walk along Lake Taupō, which brings them both a sense of peace and happiness. Above all, they love spending time together and enjoy a lot of cuddles.
Eilish and Loie have an incredible bond. It’s evident how much Eilish and Loie care for and mean to one another. They are an amazing team and are very lucky to have each other.