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Ollie and family members sitting on a couch wearing face masks. Ambassador Dog Ziggy is sitting on the floor in front of Ollie, sniffing the stuffed CNIB Guide Dog plush puppy on Ollie's lap.

Puppy Tales: Ambassador Dog Ziggy visits Ollie

By Miriam Mas, Program Lead, Buddy Dogs & Ambassador Dogs

At eight years old, Ollie is a remarkable young boy, having already overcome many obstacles in his life.  

In summer 2019, Ollie started to develop a bump on his neck. By November, he was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, and in February 2020, he lost his sight as a result of the cancer and its treatment. 

Earlier this summer, Leona Emerson, an Independent Living Skills Specialist with Vision Loss Rehabilitation Ontario in Ottawa, shared Ollie's story with us. 

Ollie’s mother, Dawn, confided to Leona that Ollie's spirits needed a lift, but the idea that he may walk with a guide dog one day was getting him motivated and moving again. When the family learned about the CNIB’s Buddy Dog program, Mom applied right away. 

Now that Ollie has been accepted, he is waiting to receive his very own Buddy Dog.

While Ollie and his family were preparing for the stem transplant at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, CNIB Guide Dogs arranged a special visit for Ollie. There were only a few days before Ollie's transplant and he would not be allowed around new animals until February 2021.  

Audrey Miller, partner to Ambassador Dog Ziggy, did not hesitate and offered to visit Ollie. She also brought a CNIB Guide Dogs plush puppy to keep Ollie company – until he’s able to get his own ‘best buddy’.

“We had a blast meeting Ziggy and Audrey, and learning about all the different career streams at CNIB Guide Dogs,” says Dawn. “Ollie is now super excited about getting his buddy dog one day and we are very grateful for the resources the CNIB Foundation has provided Ollie.”
To follow Ollie’s journey, read his family's blog at “Ollie's Bump" in the Road: A family's journey to get Ollie well!