This story is about a Kiwi. Not a bird of the same name... nor a person from New Zealand. It is about a dog called Kiwi.
Kiwi is a guide dog. When the quake struck almost 2 weeks ago, he was with his handler , Blair McConnell.
Blair is almost completely blind so imagine the terror he must have felt when the quake struck and masonry and rubble started falling around him as he walked down the street in the cbd, led by Kiwi.
Luckily, his best friend, kiwi did not panic. He led Blair through all the rubble and debrism through all the cracks, past all the screaming of terrified and trapped people, through falling concrete.
McConnell, with Kiwi at his side, would travel each day to work at Telecom's Old Exchange Building in Hereford St. The sales rep would normally have been out at lunch on Colombo St at 12.51pm when the earthquake struck on February 22, but was dealing with a customer on the phone.
"I dived under the desk. Kiwi was already under it," he said. "I grabbed his harness and he was quite keen to get out.
"We had got out of the building and into the middle of Hereford St with hundreds of others when the second big aftershock hit. There was lots of screaming and hysterical people."
His faithful companion Kiwi went to work and it took nearly three hours for the dog, who is nearing retirement, to get a terrified and disoriented McConnell partway home, until a passing motorist gave the exhausted pair a ride home.
Sighted people were terrified that day. I cannot imagine how much more terrifying it would be to go through that experience almost totally in the dark. Thank goodness he had Kiwi by his side. Guide dogs are heroes in my book... they may be just doing what they are trained to do but they save people's lives every day and also give blind people independence and a self-worth.