Odie, the 10-year-old veteran seeing-eye Labrador, has clocked up more air miles than most of his two-legged compatriots – 100,000km on aircraft, to be precise.
But now his frequent-flyer days are over and the canine savvy air traveller is heading into retirement as a family pet.
Indeed, Odie and his owner Chris Edwards have become such a regular sight on Virgin Australia flights between Melbourne and Canberra over the past eight-and-a-half years that the airline and the crew on the final flight decided to make a special fuss of the Labrador and present him with a special award to speed him on his way to a happy retirement.
Odie always ensured smooth travelling
Edwards, who is Manager of Advocacy and Government Relations for Vision Australia and is himself blind, commutes regularly between the Victorian capital and the national capital as part of his job and has had the faithful Odie by his side to ensure his travels go smoothly,
Unlike your average pooch, who must travel in the aircraft hold, seeing-eye dogs are allowed to travel in the cabin because of their special duties.
In a video of Odie’s final flight released by Virgin Australia, Edwards expressed his gratitude for the independence and freedom his faithful companion has provided him over the years.
“This last flight of his is a big milestone. 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,” he said. “Odie is going to love his retirement and live it out as a very much-loved pet.
Airline says it will miss Odie each week
Virgin Australia General Manager Product and Customer, Sarah Adam, wished Odie the best in his retirement.
“Whether our guests are furry or human, we love them all and we’re going to miss seeing Odie travel with us each week,” she commented.
To commemorate the occasion, the captain of Odie’s final flight, Adam Sleight, and cabin crew member, Bernadette Arena, presented Odie with a doggie-friendly cake signed ‘Happy retirement ♡ Virgin Australia’. The crew also formed a guard of honour as Odie left the terminal one last time.
There are more than 200 Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs in service, helping to provide independence for people who are blind or have low vision.