Cornel Pușa is 50 years old and married with two children. He has lived in Arad since 1986. He was born with glaucoma and as he grew up his sight gradually declined. He attended elementary grades 1-8 at the Blind school in Timisoara and went on to high school at the Blind School at Vatra Luminoasa in Bucharest until he was 19 years old.
“I heard about the Light into Europe foundation through Magda [who has GD Heidi],” says Cornel. “She gave me the phone number. I contacted the foundation and found wonderful people like Mrs. Camelia and Ms. Anca, Mr. Stan and Mr. Seve, who together formed a real family.”
Cornel travelled to Bucharest with his wife to try out some of the guide dogs and found that Angus suited him best in terms of walking pace and character.
“The connection between Angus and myself developed very quickly as Angus was very well trained,” says Cornel. “For this I would like to thank Mr. Seve and Ms. Anca who helped me train with Angus.”
Cornel and Angus have now been together since February 2015. Initially they did the daily training in Bucharest for a couple of weeks and then went to Arad to do the final training. There they learned three fixed routes to start with. Now they are able to travel all over town and out into the countryside where his family has a house. “Angus is like a new member of the family,” says Cornel. “It is very important that all members of the family agree to having a guide dog beforehand.” Every day, Cornel goes shopping, takes relaxing walks in the park or through the city, or to the markets. “It is a big advantage to be independent,” says Cornel. “It is wonderful not to be dependent on others. I’ve walked along the Mures riverbanks and met lots of other people with dogs.”
Cornel believes it is a big responsibility to take care of a dog – to keep it groomed, healthy and without problems. “If the dog helps me,” says Cornel, “we have the responsibility to help the dog.” Adrian and Veronica Benchea, together with GD Max, also live in Arad. Because of this, Cornel doesn’t have much difficulty with access to places and getting around. “There have been TV shows and newspaper articles with Adi and Vera,” explains Cornel, “and we know each other through the Blind Association in Arad. Sometimes the guide dogs, Max and Angus, play together!”
Cornel believes Angus is the most beautiful dog and the smartest too. “I love him so much,” says Cornel, “he is very sociable and he gives me kisses and licks! It was always my dream to have a guide dog!” Cornel has now moved to a place with a bigger yard and he is very happy.
He believes the Romanian state should do more to help blind people, to provide financial assistance for the guide dogs and blind beneficiaries in order to ensure greater independence. “The Romanian state television, TVR1, should do more to promote awareness of guide dogs,” says Cornel, “and assist more with the disability laws.”
Cornel recently travelled to Bucharest by train from Arad, with Angus and his daughter. They had to scale escalators for the first time. “Angus was like a jewel!” says Cornel.