Guide Dog Day 2017 at Government House
International Guide Dog Day: April 26, 2017.
Our Patron, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania, hosted our special 60th Anniversary celebration at Government House.
Guide Dogs Tasmania celebrates 60 years at Government House
Clients, supporters, volunteers, staff, and dogs from Guide Dogs Tasmania gathered at Government House on April 26 for a walk down memory lane, in a celebration of Guide Dogs Australia’s 60th Anniversary.
Coinciding with International Guide Dog Day, the event recognised the formation of the National Association of Guide Dogs for the Blind Australia, now more succinctly known as Guide Dogs Australia.
Along with displays of archived books and photos, and a pup parade featuring all 16 current pups in the program, the event was an opportunity to look back on the history of Guide Dogs in Tasmania, as well as celebrate how far the organisation has come.
The organisation has seen many changes since it was formed by Apex at the Scottsdale Zone Convention 60 years ago. Since the formation we’ve seen the opening of kennels in Longford; telemarketing; buildings in Ulverstone, Newstead, Devonport, Invermay and Hobart; puppy raising; training relationships with Guide Dogs New Zealand; diversification and growth in services; and just last year a merge with VisAbility, which owns and operates Guide Dogs WA.
Our vision, however, remains the same; to continue changing lives with our dogs. We understand that it is only through committed staff, donors, supporters and volunteers that we are able to do this, and have been able to do so for the last 60 years.
The first Guide Dog to be trained in Tasmania was Rumpus; a black Labrador whose handler was George Grainger, Chief Telephonist with the Hydro-Electric Commission in Hobart. Mr Grainger had trained with a Guide Dog at the Exeter Training Centre in England but had been unable to bring his canine friend with him when he immigrated to Australia. A successful public appeal was launched and Mr Grainger was sent to Perth for retraining. Four weeks later, in April 1958, Mr Grainger returned with Rumpus, Tasmania’s first Guide Dog.
Since 1957, Guide Dogs Australia has placed hundreds of Guide Dogs with people who are blind or vision impaired.
With the total number of Australians living with vision impairment or blindness currently at more than 450,000, it is important that we can continue to train these amazing dogs and support even more people.
In Tasmania, 6-8 pups are placed each year with volunteer Puppy Raisers until they are ready to begin their formal training. Today, there are 20 working Guide Dogs in the state.
Just as there have been many changes over the last 60 years, Guide Dogs Tasmania continues to expand and take the lead when it comes to providing services to the community; a prime example being the introduction of a Companion and Therapy Dog program, which will ensure that 100 per cent of our dogs are put into service and continue to change lives.
POINTS OF INTEREST:
Volunteers Karen and Graham Hosie have been continuously puppy raising and boarding for Guide Dogs Tasmania since 1997, when the first litter of pups arrived in Tasmania.
In a nod to the first Guide Dog trained in Australia, Beau, when all the Guide Dog Associations re-branded as one in 2013, the name given to the Guide Dog in the new logo was Beau.
Guide Dogs Tasmania, along with the other state based Guide Dog Associations, has built itself to be an iconic organisation and brand. So much so that in 2013, ‘14, ‘15 and ‘16, Guide Dogs was voted in a Reader’s Digest poll as Australia’s most trusted charity brand.
International Guide Dog Day is celebrated each April to honour the role of Guide Dogs in keeping their handler’s safe, mobile, independent and connected with their communities.