Gong Xi Fa Choy … or … Happy Lunar New Year
Here’s wishing you all Good Health, Good fortune and lots of happiness in the Year of the Dog.
2018 is the zodiac Year of the Dog, the eleventh of the twelve zodiac animals. As you all know, dogs are honest, loyal and do not judge. I am going to make the most of my special year.
Retina International Congress in Auckland
In mid February Lindy and I ventured across the Tasman to the 2018 Retina International Congress in Auckland. That was my first ever overseas trip. The preparation for the trip involved lots of paperwork and vet health checks. We travelled to Auckland via Melbourne Airport. I loved the vet check at Auckland Airport. It was nice to have extra pats after sitting in two different aeroplanes for lot of hours.
The next day, we went to the Retina International Congress. This event brings together some of the world’s foremost retinal scientists and clinicians along with the global leaders in patient advocacy and peer support.
I was extremely glad to hear that the medical research scientists are progressing beyond experimenting with rats.
Between naps during the Congress, I learned they are progressing on a number of fronts for Inherited Retinal Diseases, including Gene Therapy; Stem Cell Replacement; Bionic Vision and Vision Aids.
There are over 200 types of retina related genetic defects and gene therapy has now progressed to human trials. So one down 199 to go!
Bionic Vision research scientists have managed to give totally blind RP patients the ability to tell light and dark after receiving the implant. As Lindy still has light perception, this research has to progress a lot further before it will benefit her. Anyway, it is a great starting point and if it can help someone with a lot less sight than Lindy, then it is worthwhile.
For the Aged related Macular Degeneration (AMD) patients, there are currently a number of treatments to slow down the degeneration process.
As the presenters said, “We are moving ahead in leaps and bounds. However, if people expect to be able to drive a car and read print material after treatment, it is still a way off.”
However, if Lindy and many of others like her can regain at least some of their vision, that will certainly improve their quality of life. Maybe Lindy will stop spending half her day losing things, then the other half of her day looking for things!
As for me, I don’t mind losing my job as a Guide Dog. I know I can always get a job as a sniffer dog, as I am good at sniffing out food! Judging from the research progress so far, I think I will still have a job for a while longer!
The Congress lasted for two days. After that, Lindy and I along with Jazzy, John, Ann and Wendy spent a few days ‘looking’ around New Zealand.
We ventured from Auckland by ferry to Waiheke Island for a food and wine tasting tour, then went to the Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach with its thermal water bubbling just below the sand, and took the ‘EyeFull Tower Rail Tour’ in a replica bush train through the ‘Driving Creek’ wildlife sanctuary.
Then onto Rotorua to experience Māori culture and an authentic hangi feast. Well! While the humans had the feast, we Guide Dogs had to settle for our gourmet dog food! The most exciting part of the cultural experience was watching the Māori Haka performed in front of us on the stage. We had the front row seat!
Below are some of the photos from our trip.
Lindy and I got back from New Zealand on New Year’s Day (16th February) and I caught up with a couple of my ‘friends’ at the airport.
We visited Casita Miro Winery on Waiheke Island and explored local vegetation near the Auckland University.
Here we are with the train at ‘Driving Creek’ wildlife sanctuary.
Lindy and I with Māori Haka performers
Queen’s Baton Relay – video clip
You can have a look at my Queen’s Baton Relay video clip on my website, the link is: http://www.lindyhou.com/p/Video
“There is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
This is the tail of Lindy’s Comet