Guide dog Zircon and owner Diane Allard share unbreakable bond

Diane Allard was born deaf and gradually became blind until completely losing her vision at 38. But Allard today lives a very independent life and is able to do all the simple things that others take for granted, something she credits to her guide dog Zircon.

Together they make a team and even have a name: put them both together and you have “Ziane.”

Zircon is constantly by her side in the morning- he nibbles on her ear to wake her up.

Allard said, “Every morning I get up smiling because of him, he has made my life whole and complete.”

The bond these two have is clearly evident and as Allard said, Zircon has given her a “new leash on life.”

When talking about Zircon, Allard has a smile on her face that can’t be broken.

Teri Maxwell has been friends with Allard for the past six years and has seen many changes in Allard since Zircon came into her life, which was only a few months ago.Diane Allard said that her guide dog, Zircon, allows her to live an independent life. 

Photo by Ashely Alcantara

“They instantly clicked, she’s so much more upbeat and confident,” Maxwell said.

Allard was born with what is known as Usher’s syndrome, which is associated with hearing and vision loss. The syndrome is gradual, so Allard prepared herself mentally for the day that she would be completely blind.

Maxwell said: “With her syndrome she was confined, but now with Zircon she can get up and go. It changed her outlook.”

Zircon came from the organization BC and Alberta Guide Dogs Services, which is a registered charity that provides professionally trained guide dogs for visually impaired people. These dogs, which are normally labs, golden retrievers or golden retriever lab crosses, go through an extensive training program. During this training dogs are taught to help their user navigate roads safely by locating landmarks and avoiding obstacles.

Brenda Wagner was the trainer for Zircon and said she easily fell in love with him. Zircon was her 12th dog.

Wagner said: “It still chokes me up knowing the difference a dog makes in a person’s life.

“With Zircon it was easy to get attached. He was a delight.”

Zircon is a true testament to a man’s best friend and has given Allard the best gift anyone could ask for: to lead a normal, independent life.

aalcantara@cjournal.ca