- Associated Press - Friday, October 7, 2016

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - For the past three years, Indigo has taken care of Bob Lucas - serving as his eyes, keeping him safe.

Now it’s Lucas‘ turn to care for the big yellow Labrador retriever.

Six months ago, Lucas and his wife, Georgia, of Hutchinson, began noticing the guide dog was limping slightly. They had hoped it was something that would go away. Instead, in recent weeks it has gotten worse. Indigo’s veterinarian has recommended surgery for a damaged ACL around the knee of the back left leg, the Hutchinson News reports (http://bit.ly/2duC4l7 ).

The local vet referred Indigo to Kansas State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. They specialize in caring for dogs, like Indigo, trained through the Kansas Specialty Dog Service.

They are estimating the surgery, plus travel expenses and a four-day stay in Manhattan, will cost $5,000. Lucas relies on disability payments and doesn’t have the money for the surgery. A friend has set up a GoFundMe account.

Lucas, who is legally blind, has grown to trust Indigo to guide him where he needs to go. The two bonded immediately and Indigo has given the outgoing man the freedom he lost because of debilitating macular degeneration. Over the years, there have been daily walks in Carey Park. Lucas and his wife, Georgia, still marvel about the time Indigo saved him from a flooded path. Or the time when a bicyclist was coming upon them just as Lucas began to walk in front of it. Indigo jerked loose and stood in front of Lucas to stop him from moving.

“I never saw him like that before,” Lucas said.

The two have become inseparable.

“I go to the bathroom and he comes right in,” Lucas said.

Now Indigo needs help and Lucas is appreciative of the people who have already donated $510 through GoFundMe. They plan to use that money to set up an appointment at the vet school and have an initial visit. They will have to wait until they have the rest of the money to have the surgery. Indigo will be in Manhattan for four days and Lucas doesn’t want to leave his side. There will be a six- to eight-week recovery period back in Hutchinson.

“Yesterday he was limping real bad,” Lucas said, as his faithful companion sat by his feet with eyes that appeared filled with pain. For now, Lucas tries to ease the pain by offering the dog anti-inflammatory pills and avoiding long walks.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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