Rumpus: Tassie’s first Guide Dog

Rumpus flies in in 1958.60 years logo - taking the lead since 1957

As part of our 60th Anniversary celebrations, we continue to share some of the stories that have helped shape us. Here, we revisit Tasmania’s first Guide Dog.

George Grainger, Chief Telephonist with the Hydro-Electric Commission in Hobart, had previously trained with a Guide Dog at the Exeter Training Centre in England. Unfortunately, when he immigrated to Australia, Mr Grainger had been unable to bring his canine friend with him.

A successful public appeal was launched in Tasmania and Mr Grainger was sent to Perth, Western Australia, for retraining.

4 weeks later, in late April 1958, Mr Grainger returned with Rumpus, Tasmania’s first guide dog.

Rumpus arrives

Guide Dog Rumpus’ arrival made the front page of the Mercury in 1958.

Accompanied by Rumpus, Mr Grainger was an important part of the Tasmanian Guide Dogs Association committee. He accepted many speaking engagements and looked after the sale of Guide Dogs Christmas cards and the model dog collection boxes until 1973.

It’s hard to believe that in only 59 years, from when Rumpus and George Grainger arrived at Hobart airport, Guide Dogs Tasmania has come this far.

A modern connection to Rumpus:

In a lovely twist of fate, one of Guide Dogs Tasmania’s current Puppy Raisers, Chris Dalton, worked with Mr Grainger at the Hydro-Electric Commission! Chris has written this interesting account for us:

I joined the Hydro Electric Commission of Tasmania at the Head Office (Cnr Elizabeth and Davey Streets Hobart) in 1963.

Also on staff was one George Grainger as a Telephonist on the huge manual switchboard.

I have recently made the acquaintance of Georges’ grandson Phil Grainger through my position as Boat House Manager for St Michaels Collegiate School in Hobart. My duties are to manage the Schools Rowing programme. Phil Grainger, as an enthusiastic parent, has been of great assistance.

In discussions, Phil has reminded me of my connections with his grandfather George all those 53 years ago.

George (a Scotsman) had lost all or significant sight during the second world war. I often met George on the bus after work at the Hydro.

“Rumpus” would take George to the bus stop next to the Town Hall in Argyle St. He would wait patiently in the queue for the Grove Rd bus to arrive. Sometimes there would be up to four buses and “Rumpus” with the help of the drivers and other regulars would ensure George boarded the correct bus.

In those days George and “Rumpus” would sit on the back seat (yes that’s right, “Rumpus” would have the window seat).  I would often sit next to George and had many enlightening chats on our 35 min bus ride.

George was blessed with a very good memory and because he was constantly chatting to staff all over island he had a huge grasp of Hydro activities and personnel.

The bus ride always seemed too short for our chats. I now reflect on them as very much part of my early days at the Hydro.

Chris. G.B. Dalton