By TOBY WALKER
DOGS have always been popularly regarded as man's best friend and Wooli's Ken Sutherland appreciates the old saying better than most.
Several weeks ago Mr Sutherland was introduced to his new best friend, Sam, a golden retriever and recent graduate of training by Guide Dogs NSW.
As a 30-year-old, Mr Sutherland was stricken with Lebers optic atrophy, a disease which rapidly deteriorates the sufferer's central vision.
Although he had been more than able to get around for the past 27 years using a cane, a move to a new home and unfamiliar surroundings prompted Mr Sutherland to request the services of a trained guide dog.
About the same time Mr Sutherland put in the request, Sam was being prepared to enter puppy school with 30 other potential guide dogs at the Guide Dogs NSW training centre in West Sydney.
Sam, now a playful but well-trained two-year-old guide dog, has arrived at his new home to begin learning Mr Sutherland's daily routines around Wooli and Grafton, including regular fishing trips on his master's boat.