Fur in Aisle 3! Hardware Store Dog Guides Her Owner at Work
As you'd suspect, many people do a double take when they see the black Lab working cheerfully alongside Puckett, 35, who for the past 10 years has been steadily losing his eyesight from a hereditary condition known as retinitis pigmentosa.
"She walks me around everything. I rely on her to keep me safe, and she does a real good job at it," Puckett tells PEOPLEPets.com.
The 4-year-old pup has also done a good job fitting right in with the entire Lowe's team, becoming a member in her own right – she just doesn't take home a paycheck.
"She's got her own dog pillow and water dish in the break room," says store manager Dave Taylor.
The novelty of seeing Puckett's four-legged sidekick wears off after about a minute, and customers quickly understand that Puckett can help them with whatever they need.
"It's been different, but in a positive way," says Taylor. "They look past the fact that there's a dog standing next to him. In fact, the customers search him out. The kids are entertained by the dog while Marty helps out their parents."
Puckett has been working in the plumbing department at this Lowe's location for 12 years. Right now, he only has about 5 percent vision in his right eye, and is completely blind in his left eye.
"Before Audree, I was using a cane at work and running into things all the time," Puckett says. "I used to go home pretty banged up."
That all changed about three years ago thanks to Audree. Not only did the seeing eye dog allow Puckett to keep his job, she also made it a lot safer and more comfortable for him.
Puckett says while he relies on Audree for his eyes, his sense of touch helps him locate items for customers. He also uses digital magnifiers to read fine print on store tags and item numbers.
Many of his co-workers still marvel at the fact that Puckett works at all–and with a positive attitude. "It would be very, very easy for him to say, 'Hey, I've got this handicap, I cannot go out and earn a living for my family,' and take disability pay. But he wants to work in the public, and he's right in the middle of it the whole time," Taylor says.
"I just love my job, and I like helping people," Puckett explains. "I feel like I'm good at what I do so why would I want to give that up?"
Still Puckett knows none of this would be possible without his loyal co-pilot Audree. "Without her, I wouldn't be at Lowe's," he says. "She's my eyes now, so there is that special bond with her."
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