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11.3.11

Best buddies: The Waspes say the two dogs have got on fine since they came together, with Opal taking Edward to all his old hauntsSandra said: 'We were both devastated and cried buckets on the night they told us they were going to remove his first eye.
After six years of loyal service, Graham Waspe was devastated when his guide dog Edward was left blind after developing cataracts.
But his devastation turned to joy when his replacement Opal turned out to be a real gem.

Mr Waspe's new dog is not just aiding his owner to carry out everyday tasks, but also helping Edward to get around.

Mr Waspe, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, received his new dog last November after Edward developed the inoperable problem which resulted in him needing both eyes removed.
And the two-year-old bitch has stepped in where Edward left off as they tour their old haunts together.
While Edward is well know across the schools and community groups of Suffolk, Opal is now building his own reputation as their owners give talks about the Guide Dogs charity, training for such special dogs and the incredible ways they help their owners.

Graham said: 'Opal's been great for both of us. I don't know what we'd do without her.'
And his wife Sandra, 58, said that despite the loss of his eyes, Edward still loved nothing more than to be around children, have his tummy tickled and receive lots of attention.
The eight-year-old has been retired for four months but the loss of his eyesight has shown no sign of slowing him down.
'Graham said then "do you think he will ever be happy again?" and then they said they would have to remove the second eye.'
She added: 'He is still very popular - just as much, if not more than before.

'People ask lots of questions about how he copes and he is probably more famous now because even more people stop to talk to him.'
Sandra said Opal had arrived shortly after Edward retired and the two dogs got along fine.
'Opal arrived far quicker than expected because, sadly, a couple of people in the Stowmarket area with fairly young guide dogs had died,' she said. 
'We got Opal on November 12 and she started training with Graham on the 16th and they were qualified in early December.'
Mr Waspe has limited vision in only one of his eyes following two separate incidents earlier in his life and coped without a guide dog until 2004.

As well as carrying out their school visits to raise awareness, the Waspes also do vital fundraising and run a local group.

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