Dads, dogs and flat pack furniture

Rebecca Clarke photographRebecca Clarke

Head of Events and Community Fundraising

Whether he’s cheering you on as you take your first steps or helping you assemble that impossible IKEA flat-pack, dads have their special day of celebration every Father’s Day. Normal ‘dad’ duties are a little different for many parents this year; swimming lessons have been swapped out for home-schooling and weekly coffee catch-ups are no longer possible. But in these strange times, one thing remains certain; dad is still dad.

This Fathers Day, we’ve decided to shine a spotlight on one specific dad, in fact he’s known across social media as @blinddad_UK, none other than campaigner, public speaker, dad of two and now author Dr Amit Patel. Amit lost his sight seven years ago and through ups and downs has positioned himself as a powerful voice in London speaking out about issues affecting blind and partially sighted people. He has used his profile to shatter the sterotypes surrounding visually impaired people and his daily updates of family life show that there are no barriers to parenting and getting things done. To prove the point and to refer back to the flat-pack, this week he was only building a mid sleeper bunk bed!

This Father’s Day my mum Wendy and I are sharing our review of Amit’s book Kika & Me, which was released earlier this year.

 

Kika & Me: A Book Review

Image shows the front cover of Dr Amit's book, Kika & Me
The front cover of Dr Amit’s book, Kika & Me.

My mum and I are avid readers and dog lovers so from the outset we were both excited to read Kika & Me. I actually bought it for my mum’s birthday but couldn’t stop myself from reading through before I wrapped it and gave it away! 

Kika & Me is about Dr Amit Patel’s sight loss journey and with it, his career, independence and seeming joy for life. After reaching rock bottom, his life was turned around when he was paired with his guide dog Kika – a spritely, energetic and occasionally stubborn golden retriever. Together, and with the backing of their loving family, Amit and Kika take on the world spreading messages of positivity and inclusivity.  

Throughout the book Amit gives a real insight into all aspects of his life which was fascinating to nosy people like us. Covering his upbringing, life as a trauma doctor, meeting his wife and then the process of losing his sight, Amit doesn’t hold back on sharing his high and lows. The difficulties he faced through his sight loss are interspersed with moments of pure joy in his road to rehabilitation. Towards the end of the book, you hear more about family life as the Patel family grew, with Kika at the heart of it.

The book does a fantastic job of outlining the importance and process of white cane training and then guide dog training. We’ve been lucky enough to be part of the guide dog puppy walking scheme for a number of years so are very familiar with how dogs are trained and teamed with their owner. For those who haven’t had the insight it gives a very informative overview. 

Image shows Amit playing in the garden with his two children and guide dog, Kika.
Amit plays in the garden with his two children  and guide dog, Kika.

As I work for the Vision Foundation, I’ve been able to meet Amit and Kika and what surprised me the most is reconciling the independent and outgoing Amit that I’ve met with the account he shares of his mental state as he came to grips with his sight loss over the first months and even years. Both Wendy and I were also shocked to hear of the treatment he received whilst travelling around London and how some people behave towards visually impaired people. We as a society have a responsibility to act more considerately and kindly to our fellow humans (and of course dogs!) and more education on what it means to have a visual impairment or disability plays a huge part in that.   

We both highly recommend this book, with the main thing we’ve taken away, is that life can change in an instant and you never know what tomorrow might bring, or how you’ll cope. But with determination and encouragement from family and friends, we feel you can overcome anything.

You can buy a copy of Dr Amit’s book at Amazon and all good book stores – both in person and online.