Blind Lawyer Defends Clients With Help From Man's Best Friend

It's hard enough being a lawyer. Now try doing it when you can't see your clients. Such is the case of Tallahassee lawyer John Eagen.

But now, he's getting a little help. Help, in the form of man's best friend.

John Eagen has been practicing law in Tallahassee for 20 years. But unlike his colleagues, Eagen can't see his clients. Born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease, Eagen had a tough time fighting for credibility.

"Clients would come around and realize I was blind and it would be like, how is he gonna do his job? I don't want a blind attorney."

But John can do the job, and do it well. And he's getting a little help along the way.

"Come on, time to go back to work."

Willie is John's new best friend. Willie is a product of the Southeastern Guide dogs, and will act as John's eyes and ears as he maneuvers around the courtroom.

"With Willie, I can go anywhere and have the confidence to know that I'll be safe and secure and not have to worry about anything."

"Good boy, there you go."

For four months, Eagen will work with Willie, teaching him where he needs to go and when. It's not easy and there are bumps along the way.

"We threw him right in and he's holding up very well though he's been stepped on already and moved around, but he's holding up very well. He's a good dog," said Michael Mancini of the Southeastern Guide Dogs.

"The cane allows you to find out what's three to four feet in front of you. You don't even think about it. You just go wherever you want to go."

John says that Willie will be as much a part of him as anything else in his life. And that'll go a long way as a he walks outside, takes a breath of fresh air, and meets a few new friends, all thanks to Willie.

"Nobody is gonna come up and pet your cane, but they'll fall in love with the dog."


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