Murray Whittington's life has been pretty rough since suffering German measles at birth which took the sight from one eye and 85 per cent of his hearing.
The 45-year-old Napier man has also developed Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent) and recently was hit by a stroke.
"Yes, it's been tough at times," he said. But it looks like it is about to get tougher as he may have to farewell a good friend who has helped him cope with his hearing disability for the past five years.
His service dog Frodo, one of four working with hearing impaired people in Hawke's Bay, may have to be returned to the Hearing Dogs New Zealand centre in New Plymouth in two months' time because Mr Whittington can't find a new place to live which will allow him to have a dog - despite its comfort and assistance duties.
He said the landlord of the Pirimai property he had been happily renting the past five years was selling up. So from November he will need somewhere for him, 9-year-old son Daniel and Frodo to live. But it's Frodo that appears to be the sticking point with rental and real estate firms.
"No dogs" is the common theme Mr Whittington has struck since embarking on the search for an affordable three-bedroom rental just over two months ago.
"He is a great dog - a happy dog and he is not a problem," he said. Frodo has become a trusty mate who alerts Mr Whittington if there is someone at the door, or if the oven timer goes off, or if his alarm is ringing - "he jumps onto the bed and wakes me up".
He was disappointed to be told by a Winz staff member that it would be easier to help him find a property if he did not have a dog. He said it was effectively the same with Napier City Council's rentals department, as dogs were not allowed.
"I have applied for 40 properties now ... and no luck." He could understand the "no dogs allowed" rules meant many agencies had their hands tied. "But as I explain to them, he is a service dog."
Mr Whittington said there would be no problem in Wellington or Auckland. "Having service dogs is more recognised there but in Hawke's Bay it is no, no, no."
A spokesperson for Napier City Council said a council staff member had tried to help Mr Whittington by contacting local real estate agents on his behalf, putting a post on the Neighbourly website, emailing HB community workers contacts, and by putting a post on council's internal website, asking if anyone could help this "reliable and positive tenant".