Angry elephant no match for Guide Dog Crystal

The story of Guide Dog Crystal, Doreen Brockman and an elephant that got away makes for fantastic reading.

As we look back on some of the milestones and stories from the last 60 years, this particular story really caught our eye. We can’t be sure of the year (we think the early 1960’s) and we have no images or footage of the event, but we bet Doreen dined out on this story for years!

Guide Dog Crystal, a Golden Labrador, helps Doreen Brockman in her job as Public Relations Officer for the Tasmanian Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and her encounter with the elephant must surely be one of the strangest events ever to happen to a Guide Dog.

Doreen is a keen swimmer and often goes for a dip at Ulverstone Beach. She leaves Crystal to guard her belongings and places her transistor, going full blast, on top of her things so that she can home in on the sound when she comes out of the water.

One day she came ashore and laid down on the sand for a sunbake. Dozing she was suddenly aroused by Crystal barking her head off, people screaming and running, and the sound of an elephant trumpeting.

When the story was pieced together later, it appeared that an elephant from a visiting circus had been taken down to the sea for a bather, and when the attendant tried to lead it out of the water it decided to play up in no uncertain manner.

The boy rushed back to the circus to get help, and as no one was game enough to rescue Doreen, she and Crystal were left alone on the beach with the rampaging elephant.

The elephant pounded up the beach towards them, and Crystal led Doreen back towards the sea. Then, seeing the elephant throw Doreen’s transistor into the water and scatter her belongings, Crystal spent a mad moment trying to protect her and at the same time retrieve her clothing,

Placing herself between Doreen and the elephant, Crystal herded it away from the are until it finally lumbered off, still trumpeting, to overturn one car, sit on another, and damage a third, before being brought under control.

The circus bought Doreen a new transistor, but she says she never wants to share the beach with an elephant again.

‘Stories from Guide Dogs in Australia’ by Monty Hamilton-Wilkes . Published by Rigby Limited, 1970.

Sadly, Doreen passed away in 2014. How wonderful it would have been to chat to her about Guide Dog Crystal and this frightfully amazing day out at Ulverstone Beach.

Guide Dog Crystal and Doreen Brockman

Doreen Brockman, far right, with her Guide Dog. From ‘Lead with a Watchful Eye’, 1982