NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Matt Sherwood led a very active life. The 34-year-old played Division I football in college. But unfortunately, a combination of concussions and eye disease caused him to lose his vision 10 years ago. Everyday tasks have been challenging but life just got a whole lot easier.
On International Guide Dog Day, Matt is thankful for his furry friend. He was paired with his very first guide dog, a black Lab named Chris last week. He is in the middle of an intensive 10-day training at the Guide Dog Foundation's campus in Smithtown, Long Island. Once he finishes, he'll be able to live a life without boundaries.
"It's just empowering and enriching being able to walk standing straight up and not worry about crowd traffic," Matt said.
Guide Dog Foundation matches and places between 60 and 70 guide dogs each year. They're no cost to the client. All of the expenses are covered through donations.
"We teach them how to stop for curbs, navigate obstacles, stop for height obstacles," said Jackie Audette, the apprentice program manager. "We teach them to stop for traffic and to keep the handlers safe."
The dogs work on dozens of commands. The harness allows Matt to feel where the dog is guiding him.
"It's the ability to be independent that I'd never had before since I lost my eyesight," Matt said. "So it's very meaningful because it's life-changing."