Seeing eye dog is pure gold after flying 100,000kms

May 17, 2021
dog Virgin
Virgin Australia pilots make a fuss of Odie. Photo: Virgin Australia,

Had he been human, 10-year-old Odie would have earned gold frequent flyer status as the seeing eye dog clocked up thousands of kilometres of air travel with his handler.

But the black labrador’s high-flying lifestyle has ended as Odie turns in his harness and heads off to retirement.

Owned by Virgin executive Christopher  Evans, Odie was a regular traveler between Melbourne and Canberra and amassed 100,000kms in the air during eight and a half years of service.

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Virgin said this was equivalent of the flying a Gold Velocity member would do.

His retirement was celebrated by airline staff  with a special “pup cake” and a guard of honor as his last flight from Canberra, VA284, landed in Melbourne.

“This last flight of his is a big milestone,’’ Evans said. “To be able to live the life I choose, to have the freedom that I have, he has been such a loyal, excellent worker and a great friend.

“Odie is going to love his retirement and live it out as a very much-loved pet.”

Unlike normal pooches, a service dog such as Odie is allowed to travel in aircraft cabins with their owners.

He is one of more than 200 Vision Australia seeing eye dogs helping visually impaired people live independently.

“Seeing Eye Dogs like Odie allow their handlers to be active and independent,” said Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs general manager client services Lester Chraim.

“It’s important they can travel with their handlers whenever they need to and it’s great that Virgin Australia have been so supportive and welcoming to Chris and Odie during their time together.”